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July 16, 2003
Ride 'em cowboy?

Why did Tony Blair follow George Bush down the slippery slope to war? It was always an interesting question and never more so than in recent days when the "factual" support for their position is unraveling around them. (Did they think no one would notice fabricated evidence or discredited intelligence? Well, maybe they had reason, if they did. It certainly took the USofA media long enough to connect the dots.)

Well, it turns out that he did, in fact, have a decent reason. I mean, I don't think that's what Kettle was intending to convey in his Guardian column but to my eyes, convinced as I am that Bush is being puppeteered by a bunch of power-hungry warmongers with delusions of grandeur, the idea that an invasion (one that was going to take place no matter what) was better as a coalition effort than as a stand-alone USofA effort.

It's a bit like breaking a horse...you don't accomplish much unless you're on its back. Standing outside the corral, shouting at the horse to behave itself gets you nowhere.

It's actually a decent reason to have stood beside the USofA on the invasion question. Interesting article, could be a fascinating book.

There's an article by Stothard in today's IHT where he suggests that Blair is going to be pretty firm about USofA failings in his upcoming visit. We'll probably have to do some searching for the full text of any speech(es) Blair gives. The USofA national media is unlikely to give us front-page access to the uncut text if their treatment of what our own politicians say is any guide.

Stupid, stupid, stupid

Also from the IHT, another report of another soldierdying. It's not that I don't sympathize with the Iraqi people who want to control their own destiny, because I do. But I doubt that those involved in the current guerrilla campaigns are the ones most average Iraqis want to see in charge.

We suck, okay? We tore their country apart and we failed to live up to our moral obligation to have a plan, a real plan, for how to handle the post-war situation in place.

Instead, we made blithe mentions of installing a "popular" government headed by an Iraqi ex-patriot and convicted criminal who was unpopular in his country. We refused to allow aid workers in when they were first needed because we hadn't "pacified" the country yet, but at the same time, we announced that it wasn't the job of our soldiers to offer aid to the hungry.

We've made a dozen mistakes since then, from the sweeping condemnation of all Baath party members to the realization that duh, practically everyone in the country was a Baath party member because that was the only way to get ahead. Instead of taking the temperature of the locals, we unilaterally decided that certain groups of former Baath party members were okay...based, you understand, on no knowledge of these people and no feedback from the citizens of Iraq. No, it was based solely on our need for them.

Power plant workers are locked out of their jobs because they might be bad guys, but we handed the police back their guns and assured them we trusted them? Who was more likely to have been a true Hussein supporter?

And, nooo, we don't want anyone messing with our their precious oil wells, so we can't let the local experts get back to work there, no. We can't get the water running but, by gosh, we've got oil experts (the USofA seems to boast no water experts), so let's by all means hand out a few multibillion dollar contracts and get the oil flowing.

We just suck.

(The Sunni supporters of Hussein aren't too bright, by the way. If they'd just kept their heads down, most of the "coalition forces" would have left Iraq before long (relatively speaking), leaving Chalabi in charge and it would have been a fairly simple matter to overthrow him, considering how much Iraqis dislike him.)

Me, I think they should go ahead and partition Iraq into thirds Give the Kurds in the north their homeland. Give the Sunni extremists the south. Leave the center of the country to the non-extremist Iraqis. The current national, territorial divisions in the Middle East are artificial creations imposed (largely) by the UK and have done nothing but cause death and turmoil in the Middle East since they were enacted.

Read this. A Vietnam vet gives us an overview of the "tour of duty" that one-year lottery soldiers had to live through in order to be paroled back to "the world." It's worth considering as the military discusses implementing a one-year minimum tour of duty for the soldiers in Iraq.


It's good to know who your allies are. Our allies seem to be in the news a lot recently, but Bush has been in Africa and it's well-known that he refuses to watch CNN or any of the other news channels when he flies (he prefers videotapes of old football games), so maybe he's missed some of these stories. If he's aware of them, there's very little defense for us choosing to invade Iraq but giving Saudi Arabia a free pass.

I disapprove of Bush & Company's indifference to any science that offends them, but when you consider some of the "scientific experiments" of the past, it does make you just a touch cautious, doesn't it? (This isn't a new story, but I continue to be appalled every time I see it again.)

It's none of my business, of course, but I think the court was wrong on this one. Very, very wrong. The woman lied to her doctor, whether knowingly or otherwise, and he, quite rightly, restricted the procedure he did on her.

Also, I think someone should figure out just what percentage of Bush's gift tax cuts to rich folks he's getting back in his campaign coffers. Of course, it's early days yet, but I don't think he's getting a fair percentage. Okay, 34 million sounds like a lot, but individual rich friends taxpayers each saved a lot more than that, thanks to Bush's brave plan to reward the rich for, well, being rich and largely Republican.

Meanwhile, of course, the Clintons are still under fire as no one in the Republican party finds themselves able to just get over it. The Clintons spent $3.58 million dollars defending themselves from spurious, imaginary, and downright untrue allegations of fraud, but the federal appeals panel, breaking with tradition has decided they're eligible for just over $85,000, around two percent, worth of reimbursement. First, the court's determination that the Clintons would have been "investigated anyhow" apart from the witchhunt Starr investigation, is unproven and irrelevant. (Nor it is a reasonable determination that any such investigation would have been of the same scope.) Second, the judge on the appeals panel who was also one of the guys who appointed Starr should have recused himself or something.

The Clintons complained through their attorney yesterday that two former Republican presidents fared much better in securing repayment of their legal bills in the Iran-contra investigation. George H.W. Bush was awarded $272,000, or 59 percent of the reimbursement he sought, and Ronald Reagan was awarded $562,000, or 72 percent of his request.*

Our courts are non-political and impartial, are they? I guess they look that way.

When you're a Republican.

( * I won't even get into the point that Reagan and Bush were, in fact, guilty of crimes in the Iran-Contra affair. Like most of these cases, your conclusion will depend upon what you read, who wrote it, your own partisan beliefs, and the fact that the full truth will probably never be known.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:10 AM