3/22/2003

If there was any doubt, its now official
CNN is being run by shortsighted, unimaginative morons. Somehow I suspect the idea of shutting this down came from the same bunch of pinheads that decided that pop-up add revenue wasn't enough and decided to charge even for video clips of events that can be seen free elsewhere. As cutting edge as a dull butter knife, that bunch.
More on the Russian angle...
Yeah, I know, who cares. But this has been bugging me. I had the chance to have a conversation today with an actual Russian, and ran the question by him. Actually, he is a young man who's split his time between the States and Moscow, having been adopted as an orphan and brought to the US when he was approximately 11. His response, after I thought about it some, did seem to make sense, in a way. He started out by asking me my opinion on the matter, and I responded that I considered it to be unfinished business from 12 years ago. He seemed to consider that a fair reply, but the conversation moved into a bit of mutual bashing of that guy not named Bush before he really mentioned his take on it. That's when I asked for some insight. He started out stating that in actuality, the Russians really don't care one way or the other, the everyday working Russians, anyway. This probably applies to the leadership as well, and the low key approach that Putin has taken supports that. This tracks with the absolute lack of reporting we've seen about anti-war protesting from Rodina. He outlined his economic basis theory that Putin is angling for the Euro marketplace, which somewhat makes sense. I noted to him that my take was that although the Russian position has basically been 'war=bad, so lets keep trying inspections' , it hasn't really changed a lot, nor has the Russian position been nearly as pedantic about it as the French, German, or Belgian activities. Keeping it simply in the boundaries of a disagreement on policy, sans histrionics. He seemed to agree with this assessment. It would also make sense from the formula of Putin having a tacit acceptance of the actual leverage that Russia does have to play with, assessing the situation as being in less of a position to be an actual arbiter or force for change, thus, approaching the situation in such a manner as to derive greatest benefit. By playing to those in the marketplace of Europe with a mis-placed sense of self importance, and while at the same time not actively pissing off other important partners (i.e. the US and the UK), it could very well be that we have witnessed a very deft statesman and leader in the form of one Vladimir Putin, in action. The flip side of this thesis is, however, the contention that there was no need to kiss up to 'old Europe' to ensure future trading activity, and that the trade would be there regardless. Still, customer relations is an art form... Figuring out the Russians. Some pastimes are still a challenge, even after centuries of practice.
THE ENEMY WITHIN When the Spanish Nationalists had the Republicans in Madrid surrounded, four columns advanced on the city. But Generalissimo Francisco Franco (still dead, thanks Chevy) declared that more significant that those forces was a "Fifth column" inside the city. Hence the term "Fifth columnist" to describe an enemy force inside your borders. I think it's a perfectly accurate description of these people right here. This information was obtained by an extraordinarily gutsy Jewish student who infiltrated a "Muslims only" meeting at Queensborough Community College in New York. I hope the CIA notices his talent and offers him a job once he graduates. It's stand-up guys with ice-water in their veins like this we're going to need in the years to come. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs

Faheed immediately declared that there is an outright conspiracy against Islam by Christians and Jews, and that as Muslims, "we must not recognize any government authority, or any authority at all besides Allah." "We are not Americans," he shouted. "We are Muslims. [The U.S.] is going to deport and attack us! It is us vs. them! Truth against falsehood! The colonizers and masters against the oppressed, and we will burn down the master's house!" Faheed argued that it is against the Koran for Muslims to protest the American government because that would constitute unfaithfully recognizing the authority of a non-Muslim country. "We reject the U.N., reject America, reject all law and order. Don't lobby Congress or protest because we don't recognize Congress! The only relationship you should have with America is to topple it!"

THE COMMAND POST For those of you who want up to the minute news on development, a collective of warbloggers has a clearing house blog set up at The Command Post. It's well worth a visit for you news junkies, and includes contributions from some of us here at Silent Running, so it's got to be good for you.
WHO SAYS KIWIS CAN'T FLY? Despite our isolationist, stab-an-ally Glorious Leader Helen, New Zealanders are indeed involved in the liberation of Iraq!

Hero Kiwi pilot Tim McLean was early this morning preparing to fly his fighter-bomber into the war against Iraq. The former Aucklander is in Turkey, near the Iraqi border, as a flight lieutenant with the Royal Air Force. It has been revealed McLean's squadron of British Jaguar jet fighters was due to join the blitzkrieg on Iraqi cities and troops. McLean, 29, joined the New Zealand air force in 1992. He flew Skyhawk jets as a flight lieutenant before being sent to Britain in 2000 on an exchange programme with the RAF. He enlisted with the Brits after the New Zealand government scrapped the Skyhawk air combat wing.

Yeah, thanks for destroying our military Helen. After all, who would possibly want to attack us?
Lt Smash has moved
On the web...although I'm sure he's moving for real also.
Summary
Quick summary snapshot... Basra in allied hands, mop up operations continuing. Ground forces headed for Baghdad are a little over halfway there, some reports putting them within 200 miles out, and have captured several major river crossings intact. The air campaign continues, and we will see it continue with a regular cycle of strikes throughout the country. In the Pentagon briefing yesterday, Myers mentioned that there were literally hundreds of targets - this is true, Brits have mentioned that the sortie count is up to 3000, and will continue at this pace for the foreseeable future. You won't see 'maximum effort' once a day raids, but rather a continual flow of 'packages' of aircraft and cruise missiles throughout the day - persistence. The Turks have granted overflight, and this will contribute to the amount of sorties being staged, particularly against northern target areas around Mosul and Kirkuk. Oh, and the Iranians are bitching about strikes against the Queda targets in the north being on the wrong side of the line, and about airspace incurcsions in the south. Oops, shit happens. H2 and H3 airfields in western Iraq were captured yesterday, and by this morning, most of the western area of the country is probably under pretty tight allied control - this was the primary launch area of threats towards Israel last time (on an arc at the range of the SCUDs from Tel Aviv and other Israeli targets). Probability of an attack against Israel from Iraq is approaching zero, if it isn't there already. Numerous reports indicating the continued lack of any sort of command and control activity from the Iraqi leadership. Taken as a whole, the only reactions to allied activities to this point have been localized, personal initiative types of events, probably from pre-war standing orders. The attacks to this point in the Baghdad area have included the component of severing command and control lines, but it is still unclear if it is a mechanical severing or due to actual injury inflicted upon Saddam, his sons, and their cronies. Reporting also continues of negotiations with Iraqi leaders at subordinate command levels for surrender or defection. These efforts will continue to bear fruit throughout the day, as the list of whole Iraqi units that lay down their arms grows. There are still some units that are question marks, but given the methods offered to them - basically to stay put and simply not put up resistance, the first direct indication of their capitulation might likely come in the form of them simply not doing anything when allied forces make contact. There will be units that do not surrender, as has been seen in the capture of Basra, and there are units whose commanders may not surrender, but will be rendered inoperative as their members mutiny and eliminate those officers, as has already happened in the south. Other sources that have good content to wade through - Sydney Morning Herald- Photo Gallery, plus these guys are in the middle of their day during our 'night shift' Reuters (yeah, reuters, I know) fair collection of raw video footage. And a good place for tips - The Corner at National Review Online

3/21/2003

BLOGGING FROM BEHING ENEMY LINES The New Zealand Socialist Government got rid of our AirForce. Thank God for committed pilots - several went to Australia, England and further afield. At least three (possibly more - but there are three whose names I know) joined the RAF and are now, as we speak, in combat in Iraq. God bless those brave and focussed men. Cheers
BLOGGING FROM THE SHIRE I watched with shock and awe the bombing - this morning at about 6am New Zealand time. Not long after, it being the weekend, New Zealand Television returned to scheduled programming. That is, old and lame British cop dramas and then sports - for the last 12 hours we have had nothing (on free-to-air-TV) about the war! God bless the internet!
THIS JUST IN - SOME "HUMAN SHIELDS" ARE INSANE! Hard to believe, but there you go. The field assesment of their mental stability comes from...er...the Iraqi government! Such as it is...

"We have a bad impression of the human shields. Some of them are crazy," said an Iraqi Foreign Ministry official, who requested anonymity. "Yes, there are some fruitcakes among us," said Marc Eubanks, a Wyoming native and Air Force veteran who now lives in Athens, Greece. He was referring to some anarchists, who he said could provoke major culture clashes with Iraqi officials at joint meetings.

When the Iraqi government finds you creepy, you just might have a serious mental problem. You know, it's odd that barking mad anarchists and fascist totalitarian murdering scum have such difficulty finding common ground. Can't we all just get along?

"But nobody can tell me that we haven't been an outstanding success," said Eubanks, who has been living at the Dura Electrical Power Plant, which supplies a third of Baghdad's electricity and was bombed in the Gulf War. "We were poorly organized, but we lurched forward."

Heh. Lurch.You couldn't buy this sort of material. [Hat tip: Little Green Footballs]
MASS MURDER...WAR CRIMES...BODY OF A CHILD LIKE A BROKEN DOLL OUTSIDE MY WINDOW... Channel Nine in Australia just conducted a rambling, incoherent "interview" with a clearly deranged English bloke acting as a human shield in Baghdad, who insists that although he hasn't been able to leave the area he's in, "thousands and thousands" of civillian casulaties must have been caused by the "indiscriminate" bombing of Baghdad. "There's five million people living in this city, right? You can't have 'precision bombing', especially from cruise missiles and B-52s. This is mass murder, This is war crimes, okay?" His civillian death toll estimate was arived at because "that must be what's happened". The dreamworld of the Left is increasingly impervious to reality. At what point do they become candidates for a rubber room and sleeves that wrap around the back?
SAVE THE SAND DUNES MAN... Just when you think the Axis of Stupid can't sink any lower - it does! This just in from the Shire, where a university anti-war protest organised by the "Anti Capitalist Alliance", whatever that might be when it's at home, was crashed by a pair of very gutsy PRO-war dudes.
Soon most people had turned their backs on the speaker and surrounded two pro-war protestors clutching placards that read: "Nuke Saddam" and "Saddam deserves it". An angry peace protester grabbed a small American flag from one of the placard wavers and attempted to tear it in half before it was snatched back. "This is our protest. Why don't you go away and organise your own?" yelled one woman at the pro-war protesters. Spreydon-Heathcote Community Board member Paul de Spa appeared incensed when media began taking photographs of the fracas and suggested The Press should not report it. [ ... later, at another anti-war demonstration outside Christchurch airport, attended by Greens MP Rod Donald ...] One passer-by complemented the protesters but several motorists heckled them with cries such as "Get a job", "Go America", and "War, war, war". Mr Donald said environmental concerns such as damage to sand-dunes by tanks and pollution from burning oil wells were one reason for opposing the war.
The sand dunes? The frikking SAND DUNES? There just aren't any words left. I give up. That's it, I'm flipping the switch and heading off to bed. A word to the wise - don't try to sell crazy to New Zealand, it looks like we're all stocked up.
by the by
shock and awe hasn't quite started, despite what the Fox or CNN is saying... yeah, yeah..we're workin on it, ok?
AUSSIE SAS IN ACTION Australia's Channel Nine news is reporting Defence spokesman Brigadier Mike Hannan as saying SAS troops deep inside Iraq have engaged in a firefight with Iraqi troops. Several Iraqi dead and wounded, and SAS medics have treated the wounded. No Australian casulties. Damn. If the SAS are shooting at people, that means they were spotted, which is usually not what their mission is about. Still, it's clear nobody outside of CENTCOM HQ in Qatar has a clue as to what's really going on. I see CNN is bitching that General Franks hasn't emerged to give them a briefing since the start of the war. Gee, it's almost as if he has something more important to do.
So, you want shock and awe... Ok, ladies and gentlemen, get ready for shock and awe. Coming to a video vantage point near you shortly.
Shock & Awe... Extremely early reports would seem to indicate that the "Shock & Awe" phase has begun. Reports from CBS Radio and CNN Radio are describing a major air raid on Baghdad...
Canadiens Must be the French influence in Quebec...
MONTREAL (AP) Fans booed during the playing of the U.S. national anthem before the New York Islanders' 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. [...] Teammate Mark Parrish, a native of Bloomington, Minn., was upset hearing the boos. ''I came to the game pretty pumped up, but once I heard that it really got me going,'' Parrish said. ''So I guess I can thank them a little bit for getting me more pumped up.''
Being from St. Louis, I'm definitely not an Islanders fan - or, I wasn't. I sure as hell am now.
Like, you expect us to ask for one?
Chirac continues to harbor illusions of relevance.
I've been waiting to say this for so long... I TOLD YOU SO!
A few men and boys ventured out, putting makeshift white flags on their pickup trucks or waving white T-shirts out truck windows. "Americans very good," Ali Khemy said. "Iraq wants to be free." Some chanted, "Ameriki! Ameriki!" Many others in the starving town just patted their stomachs and raised their hands, begging for food. A man identifying himself only as Abdullah welcomed the arrival of the U.S. troops: "Saddam Hussein is no good. Saddam Hussein a butcher." An old woman shrouded in black — one of the very few women outside — knelt toward the feet of Americans, embracing an American woman. A younger man with her pulled her away, giving her a warning sign by sliding his finger across his throat. In 1991, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died after prematurely celebrating what they believed was their liberation from Saddam after the Gulf War. Some even pulled down a few pictures of Saddam then — only to be killed by Iraqi forces. Gurfein playfully traded pats with a disabled man and turned down a dinner invitation from townspeople. "Friend, friend," he told them in Arabic learned in the first Gulf War. "We stopped in Kuwait that time," he said. "We were all ready to come up there then, and we never did." The townspeople seemed grateful this time. "No Saddam Hussein!" one young man in headscarf told Gurfein. "Bush!"
I told you so. I can't wait to rub this in the face of the first hippie I come across! ...Stupid hippies...
AUSTRALIAN NAVY IN ACTION Channel Nine news here in Melbourne has just reported that an Austraoian ship has intercepted an Iraqi tugboat in the Persian Gulf. The tug was carrying sea mines. There was apparently some sort of engagement with Iraqi military personnel on the tug, but so far no Australian personnel have been harmed. The tug has been secured, and that's all we know so far.
DEAD OR INCAPACITATED SADDAM? But the Nazgul turned and fled, and vanished into Mordor's shadows, hearing a sudden terrible call out of the Dark Tower, and even at that moment all the hosts of Mordor trembled, doubt clutched their hearts, their laughter failed, their hands shook and their limbs were loosed. The Power that drove them on and filled them with hate and fury was wavering, its will was removed from them; and now looking in the eyes of their enemies they saw a deadly light and were afraid.
ANGLOSPHERE TO WORLD Feel the Force, motherfucker! [This is Murray's post, which I am putting up on his behalf]
A TRADITION OF VICTORY I know some people have little use for military tradition, and associated "bullshit", but you have to admit that the Brits are capable of using it to brilliant effect.

Lt Col Tim Collins, who leads the battlegroup of the 1st Bn of the Royal Irish, told his troops: "It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you out alive but 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." In an emotionally charged rallying address that reduced many of Britain's toughest infantry troops to tears, the CO told his men he would tolerate neither cowardice nor a killing spree but that they should show no mercy to forces who remained loyal to Saddam Hussein. [ ... ] He said: "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. He and his forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them to this place. Show them no pity." Wearing his Kukri, the Gurkha blade he is entitled to carry as a Gurkha commander, he spoke to his 800 men, an arm of Britain's 16 Air Assault Brigade, at Fort Blair Mayne, their desert camp just 20 miles from the Iraqi border. [ ... ] As the men listened in silence, the dying minutes of a day-long dust storm giving added drama to his address, Lt Col Collins reminded them they were a band of brothers. He said: "If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the highest, for your deeds will follow you down through history. We will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation."

What we do in life, echoes in eternity.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE... ...when you've got Robert Fisk, John Pilger and George Monbiot buried up to their necks in wet cement? Not enough cement.
A bit late, Hans
Finally, Blix agrees the Iraqis are in violation of something. Glad to see you've finally woken up. Coffee?
DISTRACTION? This whole "Shock and Awe" thing has actually been a useful distraction. Not that it won't actually happen, but having it NOT occur over the first 48 hours may have put the enemy off-balance. If they're expecting one thing, but get something completely different, that's not good for them In the rather great Australian TV cop show "Water Rats", there was a scene where the Sydney Water Police were undergoing training in combat with a police baton. The instructor was a bit up himself, and the main character in the show, Detective Jack Christie (played brilliantly by Steve Bisley), when given a baton and told to attack the instructor, complained loudly about how useless a baton was, how he wouldn't bother with it, what an idiot the instructor obviously was, and ended by holding the baton up in the air in his right hand, saying "You see, this stick..." You guessed it. While the instructor's attention was focused on the baton, Christie rammed his left knee hard into his wedding tackle, leaving him writhing on the ground. When he could finally speak, he gasped "The use of that technique is not reccomended". "Yeah? Well I use it. And I reccomend it". I wonder if that's what we're seeing happen on a rather larger scale in Iraq right now?
Yeah, and I'm glad Canada has our back...
This was just plain rude. Since the French already have a copyright on 'frogs', can we start calling these types 'tadpoles'??
Speaking of casualties
Tim Blair sounds almost Derbyshire-esque, delving into the mathematics of how the far left calculates civilian casualty figures. And he manges to do it without using any odd looking symbology to talk about imaginary numbers...
Salman Pax continues reporting from Baghdad
Here's his take on the situation after last night's activities. This passage shows there is a spirit there that will be very beneficial for the rebuilding effort afterwards
One dairy product company seems to be still operating, not state owned, and their cars were going around the city distributing bitter, cheese and yoghurt to any open markets.
Only firing on a few cylinders...
The Iraqis are acknowledging the deacpitation attack actually hit one of Saddam's homes, and speculation continues to be rampant as to wether or not he was injured or possibly killed, although it seems that he did apparently survive. There continues to be reports that the Iraqi leadership, and by extension its control of Iraqi forces, has been severly damaged or degraded.
MEDIA ACTUALLY DOING A REASONABLE JOB SO FAR Despite everything we know about the left-liberal bias of most of the media, something always happens when conflict begins. It happens much more to the journalists up at the sharp end, but even the anchors back in New York or London get infected. Everyone buckles down and simply does their best to report what's happening. Perhaps they simply don't have much time to put their usual spin on events, or maybe they actually do put their politics to one side while their country is at war. There is another factor, which is that your average Anglospheric citizen tends to be complacent, half-asleep and bored with international affairs in peacetime, but turns into a spittle-flecked, berserk tribal warrior when the ballon goes up. "A Nation of Shopkeepers" was actually a fair assesment of the English character by Napoleon, but that was before he managed to piss them off. In Afghanistan, remember who was first into Kabul? John Simpson of the BBC. When bullets start flying, reporters find a lot of the normal political crap melts away, and they start concentrating on more important things. Did anyone see Ted Koppel with that armoured column earlier today, doing a report about their advance into Iraq? I don't care what you think of the man's politics, the item was brilliant. It was factual, informative, low-key, and really gave you that "you-are-there" feeling that the best live TV can sometimes provide. "Embedding" reporters with units is a brilliant concept. You get reporters who grow to understand their unit, and it's mission and equipment, and who can give the viewers a much more informed picture of what's happening in their small corner of the war than any free-ranging reporter could. The viewers also get to put a human face on the military units. Whoever the guy with the 7th Cavalry is, he's doing sterling work. I'm disappointed that the Aussie military haven't dropped their hostile stance toward the media. As a result of their short-sighted policy of keeping cameras well away from any Australian service personnel, the war will become a completely theoretical exercise for most Australians. There will be no human face to the war. This is a mistake I believe the military here will come to regret. UPDATE Silflay Hraka has a great post on the possible long-term positive effects of embedding the media in military units.
The second Iraqi war likely won't last long enough to produce a reporter with the same stature of Pyle, but it will produce dozens reporters with knowledge of the military and friends in the military, men who will explain and personify the inner life of the grunt and swabbie and tanker and flyboy. Their stories will do more damage to the anti-war movement over time than all the fiskings in the world.

See also Bill Quick.

And have you noticed how, over the past 48 hours, these embedded reporters have gone from, "The men I am with are eager to fight..." to, "We engaged the enemy, our LAV fired a dozen rounds and we destroyed the target." There's nothing like putting your life on the line and sharing battle to create bonds, loyalties, and memories that will never fade or break. The next generation of media stars will have a considerably different view of the military than the last one.

IT'S TIME TO PICK A SIDE IN NORTHERN IRAQ Turkey or the Kurds. One or the other. BBC World is reporting that the Turks have refused to allow the use of their airspace to the Allied forces, and that the Turkish military are going to move into Kurdistan within 24 hours. The Kurds will fight them. With reports that Mosul has fallen, possibly to US special forces, it's clear that there are Allied Forces on the ground in the area. They'll be relying on assistance from the Kurdish Peshmerga troops, in the same way that the Afghan campaign was so effectively fought. If the Turks decide to stick their noses in, they'll screw up the whole thing, and we'll have to decide which side we're on/ Although Turkey is a big power, and it's a strong ally of Israel, and an essential bridge between the Middle East and Europe, I suggest the best policy is that they be told in no uncertain terms to fall out on this one. We absolutely cannot win the long term struggle to establish democracy and freedom in the Middle East by betraying the independent Kurdish state which has been in existence for years, and which already has free speech, rule of law and representative democracy. Despite appearences, this isn't only a war. It's a campaign in support of an essentially political and to some extent cultural struggle. We don't win that war by betraying our principles just to gain a military advantage in one campaign. If neccessary, send Rumsfeld to Istanbul. Mind you, he may be his usual diplomatic self and demand the name be changed back to Constantinople and that the Haiga Sophia become a Christian Cathedral again. Which would be foolish. According to the agenda, that's not supposed to happen for another three years yet. Did I say that out loud?
NIGHTSHIFT TAKING OVER NOW Silent Running Southern Hemisphere Division will now be blogging on the war from an antipodean perspective until North American Division is back on watch. Reaction in Australia has been 100% predictable. Anti-war demos getting lots of coverage, and an automatic assumption by almost the entire media that "Australians oppose this war". The highlight of the day has to be the blond, doe-eyed Channel Nine news bimbo asking Foreign Minister Alexander Downer if the fact that none of the SCUD missiles fired at Kuwait today had chemical or biological warheads proved that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and therefore the entire war was a massive fraud and should be called off. Downer (remarkably keeping his temper) casually pointed out that Iraq also claimed not to posess SCUDS, and if they were lying about that, there was a fighting chance they might be telling porkies about other things too. He then failed to smack the bitch, which I was impressed with, considering the bollocking he gave to oppsition leader and trainee hysteric Simon Crean in the House yesterday.

Downer has for months held his tongue, refusing to allow his churlish streak to be exposed by Labor's taunting. But the Foreign Minister, who appeared drawn and could barely speak for a sore throat, eventually cracked. "You're supposed to be the leader of a political party," he screamed at Simon Crean. "You're behaving like a child in primary school." The outburst provoked further mayhem in the House, and Downer taunted: "I'm shaking my head in desperate sorrow for you, you pitiful creature."

And as Australia continues it's bid to be just like America when it grows up (some decades from now on current performance) we have our own home-grown Hollywood anti-war morons, in the form of Heath Ledger, Naomi Watts and Joel Edgerton (famous for almost 90 seconds of screen time in the second-worst Star Wars movie ever made) who all decided to join the anti-war protest here in Melbourne.

In Melbourne to launch the new Ned Kelly movie, in which he stars in the title role, Ledger said yesterday Australia's involvement in the war on Iraq was ridiculous. "I think John 'Coward' should just grow up," he said while watching the war on Iraq unfold on television. "He's so subservient to this guy (US President George Bush) and they're sending 250,000 troops over there, why should we send our 2000, it makes no difference. We've got nothing to do with it, we've got to grow up and be independent.

Yes. Grow up. Excellent advice, maybe he should take it. Well, perhaps Heath has some sympathies with Saddam. After all, in his latest movie, he plays a psychopathic murderer who used unconventional weaponry, flouted the law, and still unaccountably has sympathisers among the political Left. Poor Ned, you're better off dead than be played by a wanker like Heath Ledger. Also on the news. the poor, downtrodden, persecuted, vilified and misunderstood Muslim community of Australia, who are whining that they'll be beaten to death by mobs of enraged Carlton supporters if they set foot outside their Mosques.

The Islamic Council of Victoria, along with other Arabic groups, has begged Australians not to use the war as an excuse to be racist towards their community. "The Islamic Council of Victoria calls upon our national government to immediately recall our troops from the Gulf and distance our country from what is likely to become a very nasty conflict which may forever tarnish our national image," the council said in a statement. "The Islamic Council asks the people of Victoria to reject any attempt to demonise or scapegoat the Australian Muslim population in the distressing days ahead."

Total number of assaults against Muslims as a result of the war so far - none. So why is it that I'm the one who has to wear a baseball cap over my kippa when I leave my apartment these days? It's a Yankees one, so no doubt I'll run into a gang of Mets fans down a dark alley. That's one thing I learned when I visited New York last year - "METS SUCK!" The Left continue to plunge headlong into a moral abyss they may never be able to dig themselves out of. Well, they can't say they weren't warned. The Australian today published an article from an Iraqi refugee that ought to burn their consciences (if they have any).

Dear Australian soldiers, remember this: every individual Iraqi has been wounded physically or emotionally. You are on a sacred mission. You are on a mission to bring a smile to a child's face. You will help relieve the elderly of their agonies. You will help pave the road to a new life. You will give hope to thousands of mothers who lost their beloved ones in the dark torture chambers of the regime. Your names will be recorded as heroes in the bright lists of history. You will help restore the weeping face of humanity with your good deeds. Once you set foot on that land, remember it is the land where Abraham, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, was born. It was there in ancient Ur, on the river bank of the Euphrates, that civilisation took shape. [...] As your families back here in Australia will be waiting eagerly for you to return safely, I, too, am waiting eagerly to see my brothers and friends in Iraq alive and safe. And I trust you will do everything possible to achieve it. I am proud of you, mates. Yours sincerely, An Iraqi Australian citizen, Hadi Kazwini

And for those of you who thought Bruce Springsteen was a good guy, the second song at his Melbourne gig last night was "War - What Is It Good For?" I hope his other outdoor performances are ruined by Allah's blessed rain.

3/20/2003

Wrapup...
Of the first 24 hours. Operations commenced, ahead of schedule, but after the President had turned over operational discretionary authority to Gen Franks. The early commencement was a result of intel developed indicating the possible location of Senior Iraqi Leadership, and a mission was thrown together for a strike. Although not the planned first move, it was effective, apparently inflicting at least some damage on the Iraqi leadership. A videotaped appearance by Saddam Hussein approximately three hours later showed a man apparently shaken up by something, and led to much speculation that it was a double covering for him. Other operations commenced throughout the theater as well. In the South, units made preparations, and the battle space was shaped with artillery and air strikes. Air operations were also conducted throughout the entire country, with a large number of targets engaged, although not many within sight of the Al Rasheed hotel, much to the disappointment of the media camped out there. By nightfall of the first full day, ground ops were commenced in earnest in the southern, northern, and western areas of the country. The town of Um Qasar was liberated fairly early on, and a concerted push was underway to liberate Basra. Reports were coming in of explosions and bombing in and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. Also in reports from the North, an agreement was announced with the Kurds to the effect of them provide as many as 90,000 fighters to lend assistance to American efforts in their areas. American forces were also active in the Western parts of the country as well, reported by the Israeli media, and prompting a denial from the Jordanians that Jordan had been used as a staging area. Although very few details have surfaced about ops in western Iraq, this is the area of the country used as the launching grounds for the missile attacks against Israel 12 years ago. Speaking of missiles, the primary response by the Iraqis noted thus far was the launching of at least four missiles towards the troops in Kuwait and Kuwait City itself. At least two of the missiles were engaged with Patriot PAC-3, and none of the missiles struck any targets of note. The major media seems to be chomping at the bit, somewhat peeved that they aren't being given the promised display of 'shock and awe', and only a few of the talking heads seem to have caught on that what is happening is both - guess it was everyone's assumption that 'shock and awe' was going to consist almost wholly of a light show display via aircraft in the vicinity of urban Baghdad. Whoops. Assessment is being termed as the Iraqi leadership 'only firing on a few cylinders'. Yeah, that's nothing new, but they are seemingly more paralyzed than usual. Also anonymous reporting of large numbers of Iraqi units ready to surrender immediately, if not sooner - but no reports of mass defections actually occurring yet. This is moving fast. Almost faster than even I anticipated. But then, I was absolutely blown away by the speed of the last campaign, and I knew what was supposed to happen that time. More in the morning...night all.
Good account...
..of the initial push off into Iraq, by Jerusalem Post correspondent Caroline Glick
Iraqi tanks began engaging US forces at approximately 9:30 p.m. Thursday night; a half-hour after the US invasion began. Bravo mechanized infantry company, with its 14 Bradley fighting vehicles, engaged one T-55 and two tracked vehicles.
Go see the rest...
BBC Bloggers
Can be found here...
In the North, in the South, and in the West
Senior Defense officials have informed Fox News that there are ground ops in progress in those areas of Iraq. Like I mentioned earlier...a wave. A frikkin wave...
Hyper-War
Even the reporters are getting parochial...
Rick Leventhal with the 3d Marine Light Recon correcting the guys in the studio while phoning in a report of an artillery barrage -
no, he's with the Army, we're with the Marines
And he's using the Super Bowl analogy....
Somebody has a sense of humor...
Setting up Geraldo Rivera to use the term 'lawn dart' in reference to a helicopter.
CH-46 down in Kuwait
Initial reporting is mechanical failure, inside Kuwait. CH-46 reported to belong to Marine Air Group 39. No reports of casualties or survivors - initial take is all lost. ::Update:: 4 Marines, 8 Brits onboard.
1025 Peaceniks in cuffs in San Fran
...'peacefully' expressing their dissent by throwing rocks, bottles, and pieces of rebar. City Officials called it 'complete anarchy.' SFGate.com coverage
Rumsfeld one liners
Reporter: Mr Secretary, are there any new developments? Rumsfeld: There are new developments in a situation like this every hour.... And this... Rumsfeld: I've just given a classified briefing to 200 members of Congress... (he would have told CNN directly, but this is faster)
Brit Hume is a moron
During the 'fill in the void' babbling, Hume is sounding really disappointed that the 'massive bombing campaign' isn't going on in Downtown Baghdad. Looked particularly cheesed as he talked himself through the time remaining till sunrise, then announced 'guess it won't be tonight' Sorry to disappoint, Brit. I'll call CENTCOM to see if we can get you some better frelling video by bumping some of the targets near the Al Rasheed up the list in the targeteer's hopper. Putz. They've got a whole panel of putzes, actually, all taking turns annoying retired General Thomas McInnerney with ridiculous and/or downright stupid questions. Where are the special ops forces? If they were up your ass you'd know. Are we going to airlift troops into northern Iraq? Do you see signs we're doing that? you stupid twit, I'm standing in a hot TV studio answering your boneheaded questions, not in the AOC reading the ATO Don't have any info on that Painful.....
False Alerts
FOX and CNN correspondents keep pointing out the seven false alarms in Kuwait today. Yep, the false alarms suck. Not that the real alarms are any more fun. I recall the first false alarm from 12 years ago. We had just landed on the first night of the war, and the following conversation was heard on the interphone - Our aircraft commander called the crew chief "Ground, Pilot" Burst of static from the crew chief trying to key his microphone "Ground, Pilot" "Ground.....uh, Crew, Pilot. Not sure what's going on out there, but everyone is putting on their chem gear" Now that sucked. Fortunately, it was only a few moments later that we heard it was a false alarm. It'll tie that stomach into a knot real quick, though.
Assault on Basra
...is apparently underway. Reports of large explosions and bombing around Basra. Video of celebrating Iraqis by morning? Could be.
It wasn't me!
Ha'aretz scroll headline
Jordan denies reports that U.S. troops entered west Iraq through its territory (Israel Radio)
ok, if you guys say so...
90,000 Kurds
Chris Kline of Fox News just reported that the Kurdish authorities have agreed to supply as many as 90,000 fighters in Northern Iraq, for attacks on cities in the North, and for a drive on Baghdad. Fox is also reporting the fall of Um Qaasar, south of Basra, to US Marines.
Follow the money...
Administration is moving to sieze Saddam's overseas assetts, the ones in the US are already frozen. CNN is reporting that the figure for the US assetts alone is 1.7 Billion. Thats all? Well, I'm sure that we can raise a few more bucks from the garage sales at the former Presidential Palaces. Wonder if they're considering using E-bay.
Some people...
...just don't know when to let something go
With U.S. military action in Iraq under way, some anti-war House Democrats sought Thursday to continue a debate within their party on more peaceful ways to disarm Saddam Hussein "Even in the face of war, voices for peace and reconciliation can be raised," Rep Shiela Jackson Lee (D-beyond the Oort Cloud) said.
Better hurry. I don't think a dead guy can really agree to cooperate...
US Forces Operating in Western Iraq?
Ha'aretz is carrying this story which leads off with news of
A large U.S. force is currently operating in western Iraq in a bid to prevent any Iraqi Scud missile attacks against Israel, Channel One reported Thursday evening.
Interesting.
Major Media missing it
Saw someone remark that the major media outlets (their websites, at least) are missing it. From what I saw today, when compared to what little bits and pieces I've run across in the mainstream reporting, I'd have to agree. There is a LOT more going on than is getting out. TV is a whore for the image - and right now the image is the feed from the top of the Al Rasheed hotel. Well, it ain't happenin there, but it is happening. The pool guys are tied tight to the units they're assigned to. At most they're getting the gnats eye view. They can tell us that the Marines have pushed off (12 hours early) to head after Iraqi mechanized units down South, and while that and the stray missiles earlier today were and are significant in their little corner of this conflagration... Keep in mind that this all kicked off way ahead of what the apparent schedule called for. Even the push off for the Marines was accelerated by events. I'm even fuller of anticipation for some of the stories to start getting out, because I've been given a teaser of just how big the backlog must be getting. I can't break the news, but I can sure be ready to pounce on it and point to it when it does start to come out.
It looks like a Frikkin Tidal Wave also posted over at The Command Post
Aren't any links in this post, because, well, the sites I've been surfing today aren't accessible via the public internet. Due to that fact, I can't be as specific as I'd like to be, because a number of things are still in progress. It is, however, truly a wonder to watch. Not sure about the shock value, which I'm sure is occurring, but it definitely has me in awe. This is Afghanistan on major steroids, and then multiplied. I can confirm that the bits and pieces that are visible from the Al Rasheed Hotel are a miniscule amount of the activity currently underway. Should be some very, very interesting stories being filed from the unit attached press guys, when they are finally allowed to file, although I imagine that some of the activities I've witnessed today didn't have anyone with a press pass within a couple of hundred miles. Baghdad may be fairly quiet, but that's only because the party is warming up on the road, before it heads into town. Man, I love this job.
Russian Roulette
So, what IS the deal with the Russians? I was never quite able to nail down, to my satisfaction at any rate, what their major hook was on opposing the takedown of Saddam. Lots of folks may point to the long standing trade relations, in arms and other things, and the outstanding tab for same. Valid point, but the amounts being talked about for arrearage won't break the Kremlin's bank, and the potential for future dealings isn't really going in the crapper, either. Heard an 'analysis' on NPR during the drive in this morning, that made the case that if it hadn't been for the French leading the charge and taking most of the heat, that Putin probably would have been a lot more reserved in his criticism, in public at any rate, against taking down Saddam. All sounds well and good, and not really shaken too much by the announcement from Putin that it highly critical of the US hostilities. It seems to fit into him playing to his base at home, and not unnecessarily annoying or antagonizing some of the more fringe elements of the Duma, This, with the observation that he has, in a break with many in Russia, almost wholly cast his lot with the West for the future of his Nation. Not that I agree completely with the casting of lot assessment. But its still a mystery to me. Reaction to the constant badgering from certain sectors of the US machinery about human rights abuses in Chechnya? Bit of quid pro quo in that department? Is it all for show? Vlad is appraised as a deft operator by some, and could this just be a part of it? Has he gauged George W and decided that this is someone that won't come after him for an apparently genuine difference of opinion, as long as he plays it straight? It would seem almost so, given that Vlad has been pretty direct and upfront about the Russian position on this thing all along. Take umbrage most assuredly with the ultimate position itself, but the way they've handled it has been straightforward, unlike the French. I've seen some amazing, amazing things happen in the last three years or so. Things that have left old Cold War hands just absolutely dumbfounded and practically speechless following their predictions of Russian intransigence or stubbornness, which were not only almost never realized. So it is an odd thing. A riddle, wrapped in a conundrum, within an enigma, to slaughter one of Mr. Churchill's observations.
Dead, or what?
Lot of speculation in the office today about wether of not the head cheese is toast, just like everywhere else. Most common points referenced - - lack of a massive counter attack (four surface to surface missiles is a long way from 'massive') - no initiation of doomsday 'fuck it all' scenarios such as torched oil wells, etc. - the apparent lack of much of any reaction, at all. Almost like a body missing its head... - the lack of specifics about the attack or the current situation in the video released, if it was in fact the real S-man and not S-X. Could have easily been taped several days ago to be released when/as needed. On a side note - have an idea which blog prognosticator came closest to laying out a probable execution scenario for the war. Since its still unfolding, not going to mention the name, or describe their prediction. ::Update::Whoops...so much for no torched oilwells (hat tip, LGF)
Saddam? Its the J-E-W-S fault, of course
Laurence Simon points to this JPost article that outlines the claim. Yeah, and if John Wilkes Booth had missed, Jimmy Carter wouldn't have been elected President, either. Makes about as much sense.
Nicknames for little poochie
Ed Driscoll is calling him Mini-Saddam. Stephen Green is calling him Saddamalike. Well call him those, or call him late for dinner, but if it was a look-alike, that might explain the lack of entusiasm displayed, particularly if his patron did just get turned into the Sherwin-Williams new bunker wall color of the week... Maybe we should start referring to him as S-X, in an obscure bid for more search engine typo hits....
Targetting Cycle
The normal 'ATO Cycle', where targets are selected, weapons selected, tanker and support aircraft sorted out, and timing established, was a process that took upwards of 18 to 24 hours 12 Years ago. For this episode, it was something like a little under 3, from a cold standing start on the part of those participating in the field. Nice. Certain leaders within the Air Force have stated the goal of a cycle of 10 minutes or less, for 'on the fly' changes. Getting closer...
Maybe not dead
But after looking at the video, he didn't look very fiesty. If that was a fake, it is likely that some announcment casting doubt on the identity of the man in the video would be announced. From his demeanor, aside from the text of the speech, it did seem like someone that was recovering from a blow of some sort. Maybe one of his sons? Close shave? ::Update:: Here's a WaPo article giving some background on the strike, and it does contain addtional speculation that the guy in the video ain't the head cheese.
IS SADDAM DEAD? Maybe it's just wishful thinking on my part, but that speech given by "Saddam Hussein" immediately after the decapition attempt at dawn was a bit odd. For one thing, he went to great pains to ensure that people could tell by his precise reference to the time of the attack that they weren't watching a pre-prepared tape. The message was "I'm not dead". And another thing - is it just me, or did "Saddam Hussein" look a little, ah, fake? Thick glasses hiding some of his face, beret over his hair, high collar - and you'll notice it was a fixed mid-shot, not a close-up. Did we just nail the fucker and win the war?

3/19/2003

Andrew has new friends!
That took the time to write to him from Saudi. Isn't that so, so, special.
PC stupidity
There's always at least one glaring example. It might look something like this, for example. And in war, in military organizations, apparently stupid nit noy things do seem to happen, particularly because it isn't a debating society. Hopefully, this policy will be reviewed and, ahem, adjusted.
ToT
VodkaPundit notes some viewer mail citing 6 bombs/cruise missiles within a 10 second time frame. Fair to good coordination. They'll manage to tighten that up with a bit more practical experience. And, this was an impromptu...
Called an audible
Apparently the President had no plans to address the nation this evening, until it was brought to his attention there was a 'target of opportunity' in the Baghdad area. Hmm. Let's give it a try...so they did. Fluid. Dynamic retasking. Prescience. What happened was just that. Assetts already airborne, planned for targets, apparently in the Southern Areas of Iraq adjacent to Kuwait, were retasked on the fly, to head downtown. That involves the rapid re-assignment of more than just the strike aircraft. It is the tanker support, the SAM suppression and electronic support aircraft, and a shift in the game plan for the aerial C2 and intel coverage assetts to lend them support. Beauty. And fingers crossed for a lucky shot.
Unconventional
As I mentioned earlier. The assembled retired Generals commenting on events are absolutely befuddled that the attack may be commencing at dawn, Iraqi time. "I own the night" said one. Unconventional folks, unconventional. Back to Peter Arnett in Bahgdad, reporting AAA and sirens....
It is begun
Ari Fliescher just announced "The beginning stages of the disarmament of Iraq has begun. The President will address the Nation at 10:15 Eastern Time."
Analysts, and Information
Just spun through the dial and caught a couple of retired generals turned analysts giving their take on whats likely to happen when the shooting begins. I was quite impressed with their presentations, and rundown of the basic pieces and parts of the forces arrayed, and the various roles that each plays in this type of operation. How those pieces all fit together. One thing I did note, was that both gentlemen, on the subject of 'how will this be done' seemed to give their version of how they'd run the campaign. Wether or not the strategies they laid out would be what their finished campaign would resemble is unkown. Do keep in mind these guys are just speculating. So am I. I still think it will be a much more intricate, and surprising (as it should be, to just about everyone not directly involved) operation. They were a little more traditional and straightforward. And we could all be talking out of our asses, because none of us are privy to the D-Day Air Tasking Order nor the Ground Forces plan of battle. Aside from the assembly and unleashing of aircraft, armor, and boots on the ground, now also continues a key, and possibly critical phase of information warfare. Keep in mind that all information that is publicly available, particularly issuing from the vicinity of the hostilities, is being in some form choreographed as is the rest of the battle. This aspect of the conflict may seem frustrating to a nation, and a world, that wants to know. Well, Saddam and his henchmen want to know too, and until a wqay is figured out on how to tell everyone except for them...well, thats the way its gonna be. As I mentioned before. Dominance. In the air, and on the airwaves. But I'd rather the details be kept from me that would only serve to temporarily satisfy my curiosity, if the price of that satisfaction was the loss of a single one of my brothers in arms in theater. So, how bad do you want to know? Is it worth it? Not to me. We'll know soon enough, and in a few years, I'm sure there will be some great Discovery Channel special series on what is about to happen.
Text of a letter
Text of a Letter from the President to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate March 18, 2003 Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:) Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that: (1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and (2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001. Sincerely, GEORGE W. BUSH
Subtle. I like it.
Starlight, Starbright
Like to point out a couple of things. First, even with a completely full moon, out in the middle of the desert, its still pretty frikkin dark. I've -not- seen it myself. And if night vision seems to be a problem, simply popping an illumination flare somewhere in the area is a neat trick. Not that they light anything up, but the sound and motion will generally attract a substantial number of eyeballs in the vicinity, and immediately ruin their night vision for about five or ten minutes. Second, illumination levels are of lesser concern when you can engage your target before he is aware of your presence, or from beyond the effective range of his weapons, regardless of ambient lighting. On a tangent, this second point is also why such effort is being made to announce to the Iraqi troops 'how to surrender'. We know that this is like shooting fish in a small barrel with a 16-inch naval gun. Just one more indication, which will of course be completely ignored, that there is an interest in sparing as many Iraqi lives as possible in accomplishing this mission. Making things, emphaisis on things, as in inanimate objects, go BOOM is really, really, really cool. In reality, scattered body parts of hapless, helpless schmucks that were forced to be there is definately not a bonus. Saddam, Uday, or Qusay, on the other hand, would be bonus. Hope this clarifies things a bit.
Wow
After reading that last one Tom posted, I keep getting this mental image of a really nervous guy sitting in a chair. All of a sudden, he bolts up shrieking, and promptly runs into the wall for no reason, knocking himself out. A lot of the reaction from the far left sort of gives me that impression.
THIS JUST IN - WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE The Left are, perhaps as was to be expected, spazzing out big-time. The war-criminal Bush, in cahoots with a sinister cabal of Zionist operatives, is going to destroy all life-forms on the planet for no readily apparent reason other than...uh...he can? We're not quite sure of the details, but apparently everyone in Iraq is doomed. That goes without saying.

The Arab news service Al Jazeera, operating out of Qatar, will capture images of thousands and thousands of Iraqi civilians sprawled and shattered and bloody in the Baghdad streets, in a manner quite like the bodies we saw in New York on September 11. The resulting explosion of rage within the moderate and extremist Muslim world will be immediate and ferocious. The terrorism alert status in America will rise to red. Troops will appear in the streets

And then the poor, desperate, deluded fools living in large American cities, crazy with grief over the slaughter of their loved one by the US Air Pirates, will set off bombs, killing large numbers of Americans. This is all part of the Satanic Ashcroft's master plan to set up a Police State.

The body bags will come out, here at home and across the sea in Iraq, as Americans begin to die in terrible numbers. Martial law will be declared, habeas corpus will be suspended, posse comitatus will be left aside, and the strictures outlined by both Patriot Acts will come to full bloom. 227 years of constitutional law in America will draw to a close.

Of course it's all about oiiiiiiil, and rewarding Bush's Texas oil buddies too.

In all likelihood, America will score a decisive military victory. U.S. forces will invest Iraq. The Halliburton subsidiary Brown & Root will begin construction on any number of permanent military bases. Administration officials will begin to formulate plans for the removal of other governments in the Middle East, both friendly and unfriendly, by any means necessary.

Not that it matters. Night is descending of the dream that was America.

Take to the streets. Scream until your throat bleeds. Call whatever congressional leaders you know, full in the knowledge that you will be contacting a mob of failures, appeasers and political cowards. Make sure you can look at yourself in the mirror as this darkness falls. Above all else, do not succumb to despair. You owe that much to yourself, your children and your nation as we fade to black.

The above drivel was written by William Rivers Pitt, who wrote "War On Iraq" with Scott Ritter, if that tells you anything. He teaches high school in Boston, MA, which in itself is pretty terrifying.

3/18/2003

Naked Boobie Contest Winner! We have a pair of winners in fact. No, two people, settle down. Having lead most of the way Cassandra was joined at the finish line by Sarah with a last minute rush of voting, clearly Mike was using both hands in his support. One man one vote Mikey, we're watching those IP addresses guy. Closely following the winners was Fat Old Sailor in total disregard of the restraining order. HEY! Back off big fella. Judges refute any suggestion that this competition was stacked and we further consider it to be a high point in Silent Runnings blogging history. Look at me, trying to lower the tone of a tit competition. Negotiations have been open with one of the winners and a "skimpy top" is currently under consideration. However the weather is hot so we're looking good for a photo finish. So, Sarah, any pictures you want to share with your adoring fans (Mikes MPD)?
We have gunfire
Via the Corner, this Times Online article, and its a naval engagement. Kuwaiti gunboat versus Iraqi dhows, possibly laying mines. Hmmmm. Well, there was a cavalry charge in Afghanistan, but I think the Times correspondent and editors are a bit premature in touting this as 'allied battle plan unfolds'. Unless its a really, really subtle unfolding. Still, what a cool distraction - start a desert war at sea with someone else's gunboat. Who'd have suspected? Itchy edit fingers?
Of that which is to come
For the past few months, I've been fairly silent on the subject of what exactly is likely to happen over the next week or so. Not that I don't have any ideas on the subject, I do, quite a lot of them, in fact. What is coming will be so completely unlike anything else before seen in the history of warfare, that even those that have been taking careful note of the various pieces and parts assembling are likely to be absolutely awed. We saw some teasers last year in Afghanistan, however, there was nothing about that conflict that called for or was able to involve the complete engagement of the combined arms might and multiple disciplines available for waging large scale combat available to the US military today. Large outlet media reports are sprinkled with the buzz phrases. Shock and awe. Swarm Tactics. The dance. Battle Rhythm. I tend to think of it as being beyond hyper-war. Movement with such speed, fluidity, and apparent prescience of the surroundings as to be unlike anything outside the wildest imaginings. It will be extremely surprising to hear accounts of anything like the large, set piece armor engagement at 72 Easting. To be certain, a large, large number of Iraqi hardware pieces are going to be obliterated - some individually, and some in huge fell swoops. While the 'old school' train of thought of marshal points, phase lines, and the forward edge of the battle area still exist, their meanings have taken on possibly subtle, but hugely significant transformations. In many respects, the absolute dominance about to be demonstrated will probably appear in hindsight as almost an 'inside out' job, as superior firepower, movement, and information dominance are woven together into a tapestry of execution, with literally thousands and thousands of carefully choreographed, yet fluid and dynamic activities occurring nearly simultaneously. I remember seeing an artist's rendering, probably twenty years ago, of two commanders standing inside a holographic representation of the battle space, directing the activities, which they were able to follow from a 'big picture' perspective. We aren't quite to that level of technical elegance, but we are a lot closer to that vision than not. It is fairly safe to speculate that the preponderance of Iraqi battlefield casualties in the first Gulf War died very rapidly, quite probably only a small percentage were aware that they were under attack either at the time of their deaths, or only dimly aware of danger for only a few instances before the end. As I pointed out some time ago, we were killing them in many cases before they were even aware of our presence. In many respects, the air campaign began several months, or even years ago. And by those activities, we have steadily degraded the Iraqi defenses, and presented them with an idea of how we will engage them, not too radically different from what they were shown 12 years ago. Yes, the preparation of the battle space has been underway for quite some time. As we have shown them the same hand of cards over and over again, we have taken notice of exactly how they are holding their pair of deuces. It would be a fair assumption to believe that there are individuals wearing US uniforms that could probably give you as good or better a briefing on various aspects of the Iraqi military strengths, dispositions, command structures and methodologies, logistical readiness, levels of training, and a host of other details than the members of the Iraqi units they might be describing. The country, the lay of the land, the orientation of the terrain, is itself not foreign or unknown to our forces. Our aircrews are intimately familiar with Southern and Northern Iraq. Wave upon wave of American military members have trained, studied, pondered, reflected, and envisioned how best to do that upon which we embark, during their continual rotations into and out of the area. It is said that a military's greatest weakness is when it prepares to fight the last war...in this case, members of the US military, particularly ones that were involved in the first Gulf War, have been planning the next war for 12 years. Despite the apparently overwhelming success of the first time around, there were, apparent to those that took part, glaring 'rough edges,' either equipment, tactics, or methodologies that either needed a lot of improvement, complete overhauls from scratch, or to be abandoned completely. That has happened for the most part. The lessons were noted, studied, and where necessary, improvements were made. Some time has been given to the examination of the age of the current generations of American equipment. Many point to them as being relatively ancient, when considering the rapid pace of upgrades or whole model replacements from the mid to latter 20th Century. True, several of these systems outwardly seem absolutely archaic, based on 50 plus year old designs. But these designs work. And they have not been simply washed and polished or slapped with a new coat of paint. Every major weapons system in the US arsenal has undergone upgrades, refinements, and in some cases almost complete systems redesigns during their lifespan. The aircraft fielded today bear, in some cases, only outward dimensional similarities to the designs originally conceived to compete for the original contracts to build them. Complimentary to the efforts to modernize and upgrade this equipment, there has been a continuing evolutionary refinement of the tactics, techniques and procedures for using these instruments as weapons of combat, often resulting in new insights or unintended benefits beyond those proposed or envisioned during the planning for the upgrades to the hardware. For all of the discussion of parochialism and competition between the services, and the pointing to examples such as the operations in Grenada as being examples of 'disconnects' between the branches of the military, it would be foolish to think that such discussion were not also held in a large five sided building beside a river that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. More foolish still to believe that the professionals having those discussions were so petty that fixing the identified problems wasn't the main order of business. It was. To the point that almost every system, tactic, or procedure for combat is hardly considered unless the proponents can explain how it will fit into a 'purple' environment (military shorthand for a Joint Forces environment, involving all the service branches working together). And beyond just making a nice little PowerPoint briefing about their favorite pet rock, or how its going to make thus and such a dent in the bad guy's heads, it has to be demonstrated, in live, realistic trials, that said pet rock can play well with all the other pet rocks out there. One of the best analogies to describe the issue I've heard used, although it was directed at an Air Force audience, about Air Force systems, was about many different tribes of Indians all speaking in different dialects. Thus the effort has been to get all the tribes speaking the same language, and focusing on the same goal, getting that buffalo dinner. The result is the equivalent a finely honed sword, in the hands of an expert horseman who knows almost instinctively how to wield it, on a battlefield of men holding wooden pitchforks. This, coupled with scant restraint on the application of the tools available, will become the textbook example that will be studied as epitome of the evolving art form. What does all this mean? We're going to kick those asses that need it, and try not to disturb those that don't. Very, very quickly. As a additional note - US Troops would rather shop for gaudy souvenir trinket doo-dads they can bring home and wow their friends and family with in Baghdad than to raze it. Nice chairs are much better to sit on to have a cold one than twisted smoking rubble. Just sayin.
A BIG KIWI TWO THUMBS UP... ...to the new conservative comic strip Day By Day, for this inspired commentary on our non-violent, multi-lateralist, sensitive and pure of heart opponents, the French. It's a good strip, bookmark it and give them money. Just for the record, no we haven't forgotten about the military attack France made against our country during peacetime, or how they threatened to destroy our economy if we didn't release the military personnel we captured in civillian dress before they could flee the country after having murdered an innocent man. Uh, and it also has to be said that our so-called allies, the British and the Americans knew perfectly well what the French were going to do, and refused to pass the information on. Just thought I'd mention that.
We'll help...
Paris: We may help in chemical war. Thanks but no thanks. Holding one's nose in the air is simply not a viable defense strategy in a chem/bio environment. They've already lost their chance to 'help'. They could start making up for it by...oh how did Chirac put that? Yeah, this is it... Take advantage of an excellent opportunity to keep quiet.
Changes things?
This CNN Headline sub-bullet: French ambassador says if Iraq uses chemical weapons, that would "change the situation completely." Not really. The current stable of French Government Officials will still be weaselly, arrogant, contemptable, lying bastards. And France will still be cut out of post war reconstruction deals. Best they keep their domestic use mil hardware at home. It would be a real tragedy if there were some combat ID fox paws, distinguishing the Iraqi Mirages from the Frog ones. Ooops. I'd absolutely hate for that to happen...
Blogging from the War Zone
CNN independant correspondent Kevin Sites posting via wireless, sat, and possibly pigeon. He's even using audioblog entries. Interesting to see how his 'on scene', minimally edited stories will compare to ones that are pre-chewed and partially digested for human consumption...
Quick Q & A
Q: But, but, when will it be over?? A: About 30 seconds after Saddam is on the confirmed mort list. Myself, I'm hoping for a confirmed kill or capture. Here's praying we don't have a replay of the torched carcass outside the bunker, or the MIA Osama scenario. And yes, I prefer dead and done with to him, or his sons, or his immediate confidants sitting in the dock of some tribunal. Q: What about after the War? What becomes of the Iraqi people? A: Odd about the sudden concern for them at this point, but that aside, suffice it to say their lot will immediately be improved (see below). Inconsequential things such as money and effort spent on medicine and food, instead of a different style of gold leafed toilet bowl fixture for guest bathroom #37 in lavish palace #42 would be a fine guess. Q: Is there a plan? A: Yes. Shocking as it may be that not all of you were personally consulted, there is a plan. Might have noticed this if you hadn't been so busy convincing yourselves that the current administration was a bunch of moronic boobs. Although you were hoping they'd attempt to spend more time dis-abusing you of your irrelevant fantasies of adequacy, they chose instead to work on...wait for it...their plans. Cuts down on the seemingly absent minded lip-chewing that way. Q: How can it succeed without the rest of "the world's" help? A: By not being muddled up by the "rest of the World". Watch and learn. A radical concept that hasn't really happened before (the learning part), but then, I am an eternal optimist.
"give them some more time"
One last review of what the people asking for more time for Saddam are really asking for
  • Time to feed more people into shredding machines
  • Time to suspend more women by their legs during their cycle
  • Time to gas more Kurds
  • Time to rape more women in front of their families
No, they should be given no more time for things such as this. The cost in human lives for the continued fantasy of making everything allright through the the charade of placation is far too high.
MARITIME VERSUS LAND-BASED POWER Steven DenBeste, who is definitely the go-to guy for informed speculation about war and diplomacy (and who cheerfully admits when he gets it wrong and is wisely trying to give up his prediction addiction), always has something to make you think. One of his correspondents, Mike, has come up with one of those big-picture details that always looks so good as a PhD thesis topic.

When I look at the countries signing up with the U.S. I see countries that have historically been maritime powers, opposed by countries that have historically been continental "Army" powers. Within our coalition you have the mother-of-all-maritime powers (the U.K.), aligned closely with the mother-before-that (Spain), and of course the U.S., home of Mahan, which has historically had a solid predilection for standing naval power and is clearly the great maritime power of the modern world. In opposition, France, where Napoleon tried and failed to build a navy to oppose the Royal Navy; Germany, which in two world wars embarked on a huge naval building program only to fall back on submarine warfare as the only effective sea born military influence, and then that twice failed; and Russia, which replayed the Napoleonic role in the cold war - a great land power, trying and failing to build a world class navy to counter an extant great naval power.

An excellent point, and one which is in fact the subject of an entire book by English naval historian Peter Padfield, "Maritime Supremacy and the Opening of the Western Mind - Naval Campaigns that Shaped the Modern World 1588 - 1782. If you like Victor Davis Hanson on why heavy infantry is the preferred Western method of making war on land, you'll definitely enjoy Padfield's take on the impact maritime operations has had on our Anglospheric political/military culture.

In the great wars of modern history, maritime powers have always prevailed over land-based empires, whether Habsburg, Napoleonic, Nazi, or Soviet. This extraordinary book charts the growth of these powers in various western countries while revealing the way in which supremacy at sea freed thought and society itself. As noted historian Peter Padfield demonstrates, those nations attaining mastery at sea have been distinguished by liberty, flexibility, and enterprise, a historical lesson of burning relevance today.

He takes us through some of the most significant clashes at sea, including the Spanish Armada, the Anglo-Dutch wars, the "Protestant Wind" and landing of William of Orange which led to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Barfleur, Malaga, Finnsterre, Quiberon Bay, the American Revolution and Chesapeake Bay. But Padfield is interested in the underlying reasons for the conflicts, and what they tell us about the emerging ideals of liberty which he sees as the hallmark of maritime powers. He's equally scathing about the stultification and conformity brought about by the huge standing land armies of the Continental powers, and I suspect the book is not on the required reading list at St Cyr. But I have no doubt it's available at Greenwich and Annapolis. I play a computer game called "Europa Universalis II", and although it's by no means a complete simulation of politics, culture and warfare, it's about as good as we can get at this point in history. It covers the period from the Hundred Years War (1419) till after the Congress of Vienna (1820), and you can play any country in the world. Colonisation, trade, diplomacy, alliances, cultural change and wars are all modeled quite well. Having played it a lot, I can say that it is capable of providing you with an insight into why some historical events happened the way they did. You can get a real feel for why the English colonised North America, and why the Portuguese set up trade posts in Africa. As the Dutch, by the time you gain your freedom from the Spanish, a far-flung global trade-based empire is your best bet for success. And as England, you expand everywhere, while making sure that no one power dominates the Continent. The game doesn't force you to play historically (indeed, once when I was playing the Venetians, I founded a colony in what is now Mexico, only to stumble across a Chinese colony in California!) but you can see why a lot of history happened the way it did. Playing as a maritime power in the game always feels different from playing a continental nation. The constant wars, draining the treasury, having to maintain a large standing force in case of aggression, being fixated on winning two or three provinces at a time...all of this ensures that you have to make sure state authority is seldom questioned. Land powers squelch their own people. They more or less have to. But gaming as a sea power, especially as England, tends to make you more open, more liberal, have more contact with the rest of the world, and encourages free trade. You also tend to have more options about when and where to launch military operations. A solid home waters fleet is often a surer barrier to invasion than a mountain range. Form follows function. And for those Americans who want to know more about the role of sea power in their own situation, you can't go wrong with Barbara Tuchman's fantastic "The First Salute", about the key role of naval operations during the American Revolution. And for an object lesson in how a maritime nation projects power in the modern world, I recommend you turn your TV on in about 36 hours.
RETURN OF "BAD TIMING" One of Murray's favourite movies is "The Three Musketeers", the version with Tim Curry as Cardinal Richelieu. One of the best lines from the movie comes just as the Cardinal has managed to outmanouvre the good guys politically, and has managed to have his guardsmen surround and disarm the Musketeers. Gleefully, he announces that the regiment has been disbanded, and the Cardinal's Guard will look after the King's personal safety from now on. Just after everyone has chucked their uniforms in a heap and thrown down their swords, D'Artagnan (Chris O'Donnell) shows up all fresh-faced and enthusiastic, and Tim Curry asks him what he's there for. "To join the Musketeers!" he replies with pride. And that Tim delivers one of the better one-liners of his career. "Bad timing". This line comes irresistably to mind when I contemplate that today, the Dixie Chicks have released their latest album in New Zealand (and also in Australia). They're spending megabucks on TV ads, and have point-of-sale material at every racord store. All of it costing actual cash money. Money none of them will ever see again. We are settler nations just as America is, in fact most of us come from the same families in Scotland, Ireland and England. And our country music fans are exactly the same Jacksonian patriots as yours. And folks like that don't look kindly on traitors. Bad timing indeed. Their album hasn't so much been released as sort of dropped into a very deep well. Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...plop! When all this is over, they'll be wondering if they can get jobs as checkout chicks at the Lubbock Wal-Mart And Murray, ever the voice of moderation and restraint, adds that the three of them getting jobs at Hooters would be conclusive proof of the existence of God.

3/17/2003

One last item.
Yes, its still St. Patrick's day here on the US East Coast. Wore green all day, so got that covered. Never really got into the green beer thing, though. Probably due to a tragic incident during my adolescence. A friend of mine invited me on a trip to go water skiing on one of the rivers in Alabama one summer. The drive out there took about 3 hours or so, and when we got there, he announced a surprise. He'd managed to acquire two six packs of Miller High Life in the old clear glass bottles. But he'd pulled off this feat a couple of days prior, and had hidden the beers in the trunk of his dark car. In Alabama. In the summertime. When we popped the trunk to retrieve the goodies, we found 12 bottles with familiar labels, and an odd greenish substance inside. We shrugged, and tossed them into the ice filled cooler. Then, in one of the more memorably disgusting episodes of my teenage years, we decided to pop the tops and try to drink them, odd color or no odd color. It was BEER dammit. Ugh. The experience has 'colored' all of my St. Patty's Day celebrating since...
Picture, if you will...
***APOLOGY, WORK FRIENDLY**** Men, and their meat. Yes. Size does matter. A nice lady once told me that, and to always go for the biggest one to be found. Huh? I was talking about the STEAKS. Sheesh...you people.
Now this sounds just a bit familiar
Jed Babbin, a former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense in the first Bush administration, and the author of the novel, Legacy of Valor, comments on Torture in this article on National Review Online. The points he makes, particularly about chemically assisted interrogation, sound somewhat familiar, although I can't quite place exactly where I heard or read them before. Maybe it will come to me later....
And the winner is...
Tom 'saddened' D'Asshole. I was halfway expecting Kennedy, or Conyers, or maybe even Jesse or Al Sharpton to step up to the microphone first and spew something stupid. Daschle beat them all to the punch.
"Saddened that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war.
Well tommie, we're saddened that someone in a supposed leadership position of a major part of our government is taking petty potshots at our Commander in Chief as we are on the brink of War. Particularly for an action that he was diplomatic enough to get your sorry butt to vote in favor of. Frikking hypocrite, of the highest magnitude. We're saddened that for the years that you and your friend bubba had the wheel, you approached foreign policy and the use of the military in terms of making yourselves look good in the overnight snapshot polls.
Saddened that we have to give up one life because this president couldn't create the kind of diplomatic effort that was so critical for our country.
Ya know Tommie-boy, we're saddened that we gave up 3000 lives because of the lack of a coherent strategy or clear leadership from folks that operate like you do to take decisive and useful action while you were in the position to do it. We're also saddened that despite the intensive effort by this administration to garner support for the effort to ensure not only our own safety and security, but that of a broad range of the world's people, that the legacy left by folks of your ilk is the impression that America is led by spineless, simpering, self-interested and childish gadflies that will bend to someone else's agenda, even if it isn't in America's best interests. Saddened, as well as absolutely disgusted and sickened that someone as low class and shallow as yourself has any impact whatsoever in the governance of this nation.
But we will work, and we will do all we can to get through this crisis like we've gotten through so many."
You can bet your lame ass we will Tom-tom, in spite of wheedling ninnies such as you. We'll work to press ahead, in spite of your obstructions, your distractions, and your destructive yammering, intended as they are not for the betterment of this nation, but the simple denigration of those that don't hang on your every word, nor follow your aimless wanderings peddled as 'leadership.' We'll do what we can, and since all it seems you can do is whine and flail, how about doing us all a favor and head back to South Dakota. And when you get there, go find some road kill to blow, to see if you can get some of your self respect back. Jerkwad. He keeps this shit up, and not only will there be no one from South Dakota willing to admit that they voted for him, I wouldn't be surprised if they stop admitting they're even from South Dakota altogether.
Ladies Night Out
So what do you get when four ladies go out for the evening, all wear the same thing, on purpose, then make a determined effort to pass gas? In the words of one of them
"...we’re doing something our grandmothers couldn’t do.”
British (no visible means of) Support for the Troops
***WARNING NOT WORK FRIENDLY, unless work is very, very friendly to you. I tried to post it this morning, but stupid STUPID Blogger decided to crap out just as I had to walk out the door and couldn't wait on it. An example may be found here, as published in The Sun, on about the third page, or so. (via Daghtator Blog, via Ken Layne, who claims he got it from Tim Blair, who was researching patriotic...oh, nevermind) Now. Will Murray call off that damned silly contest?
There's nothing left to do... except to pray for a quick end with the fewest deaths possible on both sides. May God grant us Mercy if we were wrong.
And when he gets to Heaven, to Saint Peter he will tell: One more soldier reporting, Sir - I've spent my time in hell. - Author unknown
48 Hours
From 8PM, EST. Simple message, get out, or be toast. Buh-bye.
Yeah, um, that question
Noticed that John Stryker has posted his .02 cents on this question, and since I'm in a similar situation, here's my answer. No idea when the War will actually kick off. Just like everyone else, I imagine it will be very shortly, quite possibly this week some time. The most precise answer I can offer is 'a couple of hours before President Bush announces it from the Oval Office'. What, you don't know? Uh, no, I don't. Rumsfeld's office staff has yet to program my number in next to John's on his speed dial, and the last time I called the White House, the response was along the lines of 'who?', before I was sent off into recorded response purgatory. As an example, last time around, I was at around 32,000 feet a very few miles from the Saudi/Iraqi border in an O-fficial US Air Force aluminum tube, and had purposely NOT been told the kickoff was that night, so we wouldn't do anything different, even unintentionally. I mean, we had a pretty good idea, but... Until you hear it from the man, it's all just rumor control. I do anticipate we will be 'hearing from the man', directly, if not sooner. But what does that mean? Means I'll probably watch four hours and fifteen minutes of TV this week, instead of the normal plain four hours. :::Update::: 20:20hrs, 17 March 03, EST. Well, the man has spoken. Sometime after 48 hours from now.
Z FORCE For those Americans reading this blog, your forces will shortly be fighting alongside Australians. And what with defence budgets being slashed across the Tasman, no doubt there will be quite a few New Zealanders serving in the Aussie forces too. If you have any doubts about their fighting skills, don't. Read about what Aussie and Kiwi special forces got up to behind enemy lines in WWII, Read about Z Force. The author of that book, Jack Wong Sue, having seen Japanese viciousness up close and personal, sounds positively Rumsfeldian about the enemy.

What is your greatest wish for future generations, or a lesson to pass on that has stuck with you from your memorable service? That the children of World War Two Servicemen whether American, British or Australian, never lose sight of the great price paid for their freedom by their fathers. My second wish is that the youth of Japan never follow the footsteps of their beastial canabilistic Samurai and Bushido ancestors.

There was also the stunningly successful raid on Singapore harbour by canoes, for Pete's sake!

Canoe 1 reached a 10,000 ton tanker and two limpet mines were attached to her hull, one at the place of the engineroom and another on her propeller shaft. Canoe 2 twice crossed the boom of the harbour in search of worthy targets and finally selected three of the most tempting - one 5,000 ton freighter, the 6,000 ton 'Taisyo Maru' and another 5,000 ton tanker. Canoe 3 covertly examined ships and sentries along the lighted wharves before selecting the modern freighters 'Nasusan Maru' and 'Yamataga Maru'. The attacks began soon after 8:00 pm. At dawn, the canoes were back at their operations base camp and there the crews settled back to watch the forthcoming show. Seven separate explosions were heard between 5:15 am and 5:50 am and both sea and air patrols were observed setting out searching for the attackers. At dusk on 27 September the raiders set out for their rendezvous with Krait which was cruising in the vicinity of Pompong Island and despite the frantic and exhaustive air and sea searches by the enraged Japanese the canoeists slipped through the net and made their rendezvous .

There is such a thing as military tradition, and it can be a vital part of an army's success or failure. Don't have any worries about the Aussies you'll met in the desert mate - not that you'll even see them in the dark...
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THE GREAT CRUSADE... ...we ran into millions, and nobody got paid. I've been keeping quiet about the war, because there's nothing really to add. Words won't do any good, it's time for violence. And the fact is, I'm not a soldier. It's a funny thing, because when I was a kid, I more or less assumed I would be. My Dad was in the Navy, he met my Mum when she was a Wren (Women's Naval Service), and we lived on a Navy housing estate and I went tio school with mostly other Navy brats. We were kids in the 1960s, and more or less assumed that there'd be another war along shortly. WWI, followed by WWII, followed by WWIII (almost certainly against the Russians). There wasn't any great sense of being a Doomed Generation, it was just that for me, the military was a constant presence in my life, and not one that I particularly feared. One benefit of being a Navy brat was that I was well aware of how little chance you have of actually getting shot at in the military. Armies, and particularly Navies and Air Forces. have enormous "tails" of support units. Cooks, bottle-washers, form-fillers, stores, procurement, transport, base administration...heck, once I learned to type, I knew there was not the slightest chance I'd ever get within twenty feet of an actual weapon in the event of hostilities. Ancient, tribal techniques for surviving military conflict were actually passed on to me by my Dad, who has learned them from older people when he'd run away to sea. "When a war breaks out, take a typing course. Wait until they're just about to introduce conscription, then volunteer. That way you get more of a choice. Make sure they know you can type. You'll be fine". There was no particular sentiment about being in the service, no invocation to rise up and slaughter the enemy to bring honour to my ancestors and protect the tribal hearthstone, just a clear-eyed and unsentimental calculation of what it takes to get the job done and come through in one bit if possible. An old guy at my synagogue, Joe, had another theory about surviving a war, which he passed on to me, with the admonition that as he was still alive, it obviously worked like a charm. "What you do is, you volunteer for all the behind-the-lines, pathfinder, deep penetration James Bond stuff going. Go into Commandos, keep volunteering, and what'll happen is they'll reckon you're keen as mustard and put you into one of those special units they're always putting together for some impossible mission or other. You get the best food, plenty of leave, you'll do lots of training but it'll be in a rear area. And although you train like crazy, the missions almost always end up getting scrubbed at the last minute - I was in Z Force, and I barely saw action the whole war!" I asked Joe what happened if the missions they trained for actually went ahead, and he admitted that that was the achilles heel of his scheme. "Well, that's when you pay for everything. You do tend to get killed a fair bit, I have to admit that". But in the end, it turned out there was no war after all. I never wore a uniform, never got on a troopship, never got into fights with the pommie redcaps in Cairo...it all just faded away into arguments about missile throw-weights, MIRVs, mutually-assured destruction and ugly lesbians camped outside Greenham Common. Modern conflict seemed to become professionalised, managed, technological. That's why this war we're about to fight feels so odd. We're not going down to enlist in our hundreds and thousands because we're not reqired. There will be no mass conscript armies, troopships in giant convoys headed across the Atlantic, Britain threatening to sink under the weight of the military equipment, no English countryside being overrun by allied troops exercising for the biggest amphibious landing in history. Armies today have so much lethality packed into small packages that a tiny number of highly trained professionals is what's needed - not cannon fodder. But there's still a "tail", and in the modern day, it's even bigger. And I think we ARE part of that "tail", like it or not. With our enemies deliberately taregting civillians, there's not a one of us that isn't on the front line. And for those of us who have been blogging, we've played our part as well. We've been providing the arguments about war for months now, constantly arguing for war, pressing for an attack, lisiting all the reasons for it, dismissing those against. Some are guilty - all are responsible. I freely acknowledge, here in the sight of God and anyone who wants to know, that I am partly responsible for this war. I have been in favour of it from the start, I have passionately promoted it, and I will not shrink from the consequences. I have no idea what is going to happen. Starting a war is like running into a dark room. I believe it will actually be short and decisive, with benefits outweighing the costs. But it might all turn pear-shaped, and that's why I want to nail my colours to the mast here and now, just before the trigger is pulled. How can I say this, safe behind the lines? I live in a large western city, and am employed by a broadcasting organisation which is famously wedded to the concept of free speech. I fly in jet airliners, and work in a tall building. I'm identifiably Jewish. Safe? Behind the lines? I don't think so Tim. This is my war. This is your war. This is OUR war.

Woke up this morning, from the strangest dream I was in the biggest army, The world has ever seen We were marching as one, on the road to the holy grail Started out, Seeking fortune and glory It's a short song, but it's a Hell of a story, when you Spend your lifetime trying to get Your hands on the Holy Grail Bud have you heard of the Great Crusade? We ran into millions, and nobody got paid Yeah, we razed four corners of the globe, For the Holy Grail. All the locals scattered, They were hiding in the snow We were so far from home, So how were we to know, There'd be nothing left to plunder When we stumbled on the Holy Grail? We were foolish beings But we were dying like flies And those big black birds, they were circling in the sky, And you know what they say, yeah, Nobody deserves to die. Oh I, I've been searching for an easy way to escape the cold light of day I've been high, and I've been low But I've got nowhere else to go There's nowhere else to go I followed orders God knows where I'd be But I woke up alone, all my wounds were clean I'm still here I'm still a fool for the Holy Grail Oh yeah, I'm a fool for the Holy Grail