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Current Topic: War on Terrorism

Capitualtion in Iraq?
Topic: War on Terrorism 4:58 pm EDT, May  7, 2004

] Iraq's deepening crisis has left the Bush administration
] with few options, and although the US has entrusted the
] United Nations with the task of finding a way towards
] political stability and elections, officials and analysts
] close to the White House admit that hopes of success are
] receding fast.

] Insiders describe a lack of direction and a prevailing
] sense of gloom and desperation
in the administration.
] This gloom has only been intensified by the exposure of
] torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

Is the US about to loose control of this completely?

[ I'm pretty sure we're about fucked. You can't go into a war with no plan or strategy other than "We're total badasses with bling weapons, bitches" and expect to succeed. The most relevant meme here, which some of my posts from this week convey, is that america has lost the Image completely. It was always a bit tenuous, but through careful manipulation of language and action, the WH has been able to spin it mostly in their favor, to the great displeasure of many. Regardless, it's gone now, replaced by exactly what they didn't want. As the NYT said, the new image of the war is a parody of christ -- a man, hooded, standing naked with electrodes hooked to his outstretched hands... it's images of smiling GI's standing over a posed pile of human flesh, laughing at genitalia and reveling in the humiliation of their captives.

The hold was slipping already... this just dumped some hot oil onto the situation, and it'd take a miracle, I think, to pull anything resembling success out of this mess. There's just no spin, because it's been etched into the public mind, and certainly even more so worldwide.

The miracle Bush is hoping for, and which the conspiracy wonks have been whispering about for months, is a pull-Osama-out-of-a-hat maneuver sometime in late summer. If he does that, Bush wins the election and gets four more years to kill, even if Iraq is a smoldering wasteland, and America is out of jobs. -k]

Capitualtion in Iraq? A Wretched New Picture Of America
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:54 pm EDT, May  5, 2004

] Among the corrosive lies a nation at war tells itself is
] that the glory -- the lofty goals announced beforehand,
] the victories, the liberation of the oppressed -- belongs
] to the country as a whole; but the failure -- the
] accidents, the uncounted civilian dead, the crimes and
] atrocities -- is always exceptional. Noble goals flow
] naturally from a noble people; the occasional act of
] barbarity is always the work of individuals,
] unaccountable, confusing and indigestible to the national
] conscience.
] This kind of thinking was widely in evidence among
] military and political leaders after the emergence of
] pictures documenting American abuse of Iraqi prisoners in
] Abu Ghraib prison. These photographs do not capture the
] soul of America, they argued. They are aberrant.

[ This article is the best I've read on this topic... everyone should read it. -k] A Wretched New Picture Of America - Protest 'or Italian hostages die' - Apr 26, 2004
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:34 pm EDT, Apr 26, 2004

] A militant group has threatened to kill three Italian
] hostages unless their countrymen demonstrate against the
] presence of Italian troops in Iraq, according to a video
] aired on an Arabic news channel.

[ This is new to me, though perhaps others can refute... i've never before seen hostage takers issue demands to the public at large like this. Certainly it's common enough to take prisoners and then demand that the nation withdraw their support, etc. etc., but that's directed at governments, at the leaders. It seems like a unique capability of the current media centric world that these people can demand action of the entire nation of Italy, directly.

Will the government of Italy consider a demonstration (if the people acquiese) valid? Will it carry more weight than the terrorists' previous demands directly to the government? Can people, large numbers of them, be motivated in this way? -k] - Protest 'or Italian hostages die' - Apr 26, 2004 / News / Nation / Woman fired by military contractor for published photograph of flag-draped U.S. coffins
Topic: War on Terrorism 1:16 pm EDT, Apr 22, 2004

] A cargo worker whose photograph of flag-draped coffins
] bearing the remains of U.S. soldiers was published on a
] newspaper's front page was fired by the military
] contractor that employed her.
] Tami Silicio, 50, was fired Wednesday by Maytag Aircraft
] Corp. after military officials raised ''very specific
] concerns'' related to the photograph, said William L.
] Silva, Maytag president. The photo was taken in Kuwait.

[ I'm memeing this not because I want to stir up outrage over the firing... it would appear that, knowingly or otherwise, this woman did in fact violate Pentagon policy and therefore probably company policy, and that's probably reason enough to justify dismissal*.

Rather, I wanted to bring it up in the context of what is and isn't reasonable as far as visual coverage of war, and the right of people to know what's going on. Obviously, the picture serves as a reminder of the real human cost of the war, which should give pause to everyone, for or against it.

That being said, to what extent does the author's intent determine the appropriateness of the usage? Mrs. Silicio said she took the picture to show bereaved families just how respectfully the military treats their lost comrades, to comfort them. She was fired because the pentagon believes that such pictures will upset the families. Does her intent come through, or not?

Finally, does this sort of photo serve a greater purpose which outweighs the concerns of the families? Is reminding the public of the facts of war (assuming the picture does so) a higher calling than sheilding the bereaved? Where's the balance?

Being generally anti-war (by which i mean, not this one specifically, but the practice itself), I think there's good that comes out of forcing people to recognize, in no uncertain manner, the realities of war. People, and Americans perhaps more than others, have a nasty tendency to block out anything they find uncomfortable or disturbing, but it seems to me that sometimes a little bit of discomfort is necessary. Still, is it right to use this photo in that way, which was not the intent of the photographer? Do you have a responsibility to determine that intent beforehand, or is art, once released, subject to interpretation against the wishes of the artist?


The picture can be found here :

* Though I am curious why her husband was fired too...
-k] / News / Nation / Woman fired by military contractor for published photograph of flag-draped U.S. coffins

CJR Campaign Desk: Archives
Topic: War on Terrorism 10:20 pm EDT, Apr 13, 2004

] First off, Kushner has erected a straw man. No one is
] claiming that the White House should have "foreseen what
] would happen" on September 11. But many do argue that,
] having received the August 6 memo, the administration
] should have reacted more aggressively. Kushner doesn't
] have to agree, but he can't dismiss that argument out of
] hand.

[ This is basically my feeling too. No one with any sense thinks that the PDB is damning evidence that the administration absolutely could have prevented 9/11. What it is, though, is another sign that the attention being given to terrorism and homeland security was not as high a priority as the administration has been claiming. And it also tends to undermine the statement that they lacked evidence that Al Qaeda was planning an attack within the US.

Probably the attacks were still not preventable in that time frame. Probably the FBI / CIA / etc. did and do have systemic problems and suffer from lack of communication, but I'd feel a lot better if it seemed like the administration had acknowledged the threats, the internal problems, and been working to resolve them. At this point, I basically don't see that this was the case. -k]

CJR Campaign Desk: Archives

US may be sucked into urban conflict
Topic: War on Terrorism 2:11 pm EDT, Apr  8, 2004

] U.S.-led forces in Iraq risk being drawn into an urban
] guerrilla conflict they are ill-prepared to fight and
] which will probably cost many more lives, military
] experts say.

Man, the news is just bad bad bad... We have a poor track record with urban guerrilla war (and our enemies know it).

[ Yeah, I seriously hope we're getting towards the worst part of all this, because it's gone from bad to realy-really-fucking bad in a big hurry. -k]

US may be sucked into urban conflict Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented?
Topic: War on Terrorism 5:46 pm EST, Mar 29, 2004

Berger had left the room by the time Clarke, using a Powerpoint presentation, outlined his thinking to Rice. A senior Bush Administration official denies being handed a formal plan to take the offensive against al-Qaeda, and says Clarke's materials merely dealt with whether the new Administration should take "a more active approach" to the terrorist group. (Rice declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman said she recalled no briefing at which Berger was present.) Other senior officials from both the Clinton and Bush administrations, however, say that Clarke had a set of proposals to "roll back" al-Qaeda. In fact, the heading on Slide 14 of the Powerpoint presentation reads, "Response to al Qaeda: Roll back." Clarke's proposals called for the "breakup" of al-Qaeda cells and the arrest of their personnel. The financial support for its terrorist activities would be systematically attacked, its assets frozen, its funding from fake charities stopped. Nations where al-Qaeda was causing trouble-Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Yemen-would be given aid to fight the terrorists. Most important, Clarke wanted to see a dramatic increase in covert action in Afghanistan to "eliminate the sanctuary" where al-Qaeda had its terrorist training camps and bin Laden was being protected by the radical Islamic Taliban regime. The Taliban had come to power in 1996, bringing a sort of order to a nation that had been riven by bloody feuds between ethnic warlords since the Soviets had pulled out. Clarke supported a substantial increase in American support for the Northern Alliance, the last remaining resistance to the Taliban. That way, terrorists graduating from the training camps would have been forced to stay in Afghanistan, fighting (and dying) for the Taliban on the front lines. At the same time, the U.S. military would start planning for air strikes on the camps and for the introduction of special-operations forces into Afghanistan. The plan was estimated to cost "several hundreds of millions of dollars." In the words of a senior Bush Administration official, the proposals amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11."

George Bush... Keeping America safe. Almost makes you wonder if he was waiting for something to happen. Could 9/11 Have Been Prevented? / News / World / Rebel assault routs Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, killing at least 20 and freeing prisoners
Topic: War on Terrorism 11:30 am EST, Feb 14, 2004

] Around 25 attackers, some of them masked, faced little
] resistance as they surrounded the police station and
] stormed in, going from room to room throwing hand
] grenades and firing heavy machine guns, survivors said.
] Few police, most with only small weapons, were present at
] the time.
] ''I only had a pistol with me,'' said Kamel Allawi, a
] police lieutenant. ''Right away I fell on the ground and
] blood was gushing out of my left leg.''
] The attackers freed 75 prisoners held at the station,
] killing the guards and shooting open the cell doors,
] police Lt. Col. Jalal Sabri said. The prisoners were
] criminals most arrested for murder or theft and none of
] them were suspected of involvement in the anti-U.S.
] insurgency, Sabri said.

[ damn that sucks. -k] / News / World / Rebel assault routs Iraqi security forces in Fallujah, killing at least 20 and freeing prisoners

War of Ideas, Part 1
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:34 pm EST, Jan  9, 2004

You are witnessing ... the third great totalitarian challenge to open societies in the last 100 years.

Militant Islamists pose a serious threat because they attack the most essential element of an open society: trust.

Trust is built into every aspect, every building and every interaction in our increasingly hyperconnected world.

Without trust, there's no open society because there aren't enough police to guard every opening in an open society.

So what to do?

I look forward to the rest. This is more of an abstract than a column, but promises a good analysis...

War of Ideas, Part 1

Architects Unveil Revised Freedom Tower Design
Topic: War on Terrorism 12:36 pm EST, Dec 19, 2003

Some of the renderings are very pretty. I still have some mixed feelings about it, but overall i think it will be a great addition to the skyline.

now, about the anti-aircraft weapons they'll be mounting to it....

Architects Unveil Revised Freedom Tower Design

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