Thursday, April 3

Interesting article by James Bowman on Saddam, Lies and Honor

Of course there can hardly be any doubt that the end of the barbarous Hussein regime is a good in itself and a boon to humanity -- especially to the Iraqis themselves, many of whom chose to die in defense of it. Yet it would never have come about if only Hussein himself had been open and forthcoming about his weapons of mass destruction. Why would he not have been more honest and open with the inspectors in order to save his regime? Is he, like some liars, so accustomed to lying that he can't tell the truth to save his life?

I don't think this is the answer. We may yet find the nerve gases and the anthrax that President Bush promised us were there, but even if we do, I believe that it is not improbable that Saddam Hussein would have refused to give them up even if he hadn't had any. The point isn't that he wanted these weapons for their own sake, either to use or to threaten to use. He just couldn't be seen to accede to the demands, still less to the threats, of an outside power. This is because of the way an honor culture works.

So...I guess this is what the kids call an "aggregator?"

News Now Newsfeed on Iraq

(It's a UK site)

What a racket

Matt Drudge pulls in 800K a year for putting up a list of links and resting on his laurels.

"There is always this feeling that Drudge is about to break something," says Phil Boyce, program director at WABC radio in New York. That leads many loyal readers to check the site 10 to 15 times a day. That drawing power has turned Drudge into one of the Net's biggest traffic generators. "Besides being on the front page of Yahoo or getting some major placement on AOL, Drudge Report is the place to be," says Bill Bastone, editor of the Smoking Gun website. "The second he links to us, our traffic triples." Conversely, getting your link removed from Drudge's homepage can be catastrophic. Just ask the New York Press. Last summer the alternative weekly ran a column that criticized Drudge. In retaliation, Drudge dropped the Press from his list of newspaper links. Overnight, traffic to the paper's site plummeted by a third.

Along with that power comes profit. "If we've been going through an ad recession, I'll take more!" marvels Kevin Lucido, CEO of Intermarkets, who handles Drudge's advertising. Lucido says ad space on Drudge's site sells out months in advance. (The Drudge Report ranks 29th on the Web in advertising impressions.) Such advertisers as DirecTV, Paramount Pictures, and even the New York Times (NYT) pay as much as $2 for every 1,000 impressions. Even with discounting on the ad rate, Drudge's flood of traffic means he can still bring in almost $5,000 in revenue on a good day. Back out a few expenses -- such as server costs, his employee's salary, and Lucido's commission -- and the rest is gravy


I used to be pretty up on Internet stuff, but these days I’m starting to feel way behind the curve. I’m going to post a few terms I see all the time, but really don’t get. If commenters could a)briefly explain what the heck this thing is and b)tell me if I need to bring it into my life, I would be quite appreciative.

RSS?
XML?
An aggregator? What the heck is that?

And what about wireless? Yes, I know what it is, and it seems quite the thing, but does anyone out there actually have it and use it?

Intel Dump is another good warblog

Winds of Change provides good daily summaries

Daily Kos brings together some stories that wonder where the Republican Guard has gone to and adds his two cents:

Whole units are missing from the battlefield and that has to concern CENTCOM planners. Whole divisions are gone. The arrogant and clueless Richard Perle says they've gone home. He's an idiot. They've done no such thing. If they did, you'd see signs. Abandoned equipment, lots of surrenders, the surrender of cities or even the beginnings of civil war as the regulars shot it out with the Baathists.

Instead, they're nowhere to be found.


I'm on Catholic Exchange today.

US News and World Report story complaining about CentCom

No one doubts that the United States will ultimately sweep to a military victory in Iraq. But the failure of CentCom commanders to offer even a dose of candor about the unexpected problems encountered there has grouchy reporters grumbling about a credibility gap. The war has not played to CentCom's carefully rehearsed script. American and British forces were not initially greeted as liberators. CentCom officials said in recent days that the crowds have begun to help the American forces, but the southern city of Basra remains a dicey place where it's not clear who's in control.

Before the war began, the military had planned to airlift chosen television reporters to Basra on Day 2 to beam back pictures of Iraqi Shiites celebrating the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime. The reporters still haven't made it there.

When the initial developments did not create the images sought by CentCom, the spin doctors here took over. Franks finally spoke on Day 3, but the briefings contained little useful information. The "mosaic" that Franks and Brooks had said they would stitch together instead became a confused jumble of battlefield reports filed by embedded journalists in the field with little context from the providers of context. In the absence of information, reporters started interviewing each other. New York magazine media writer Michael Wolff–dressed mostly in black–changed his seat each day for maximum opportunity to ask questions and tweak the briefers. One of the generals tried to bond with Wolff by pointing out they both had bald pates, but Wolff was merciless when he asked Brooks on Day 8, "Why should we stay? What's the value to us for what we learn at this million-dollar press center?"

The succeeding briefings were not reassuring. Reporters had to act like Kremlinologists to divine what Franks meant Sunday when he attempted to defend his war plan. "The very best planning, I believe, military planning that can be done, is military planning that assures ultimate success but permits the possibility of early success," he said. It wasn't easy deciphering that oblique code, but what Franks seemed to be saying was that his blueprint relied on launching an attack with a smaller, lighter force to secure the lucrative oil fields and see if Iraqi resistance quickly faded. In case the "early success" didn't fully materialize, Franks and the military planners had prepared a contingency: a second wave of forces that would reinforce the invasion. Military officials could then argue that they didn't have to alter the plan because the planners always foresaw changes. "Its chief characteristic," Franks said of the plan, "is flexibility, adaptability." Many people would have considered this explanation–if Franks had offered it in plain English–to be reasonable, though some would have derided it as after-the-fact spin. But Franks failed in three appearances to explain his reasoning in an understandable way, preferring to rely on vague pronouncements such as, "This plan will be unlike any I believe anyone expects."

What was so stunning about the CentCom stage was the stark contrast with the generous access given to embedded reporters.....


The International Red Cross' daily bulletin on what it is doing in Iraq

What Catholic Relief Services is doing

From the Spectator: Tony Blair's faith

There is no doubting the sincerity of the Prime Minister’s faith. But it is accompanied by arrogance. Unluckily for those who believe that Mr Blair will one day convert to the Church of Rome, he occasionally lays claim to the kind of direct relationship to Christ that is more readily associated with the Protestant than with the Roman Catholic Church. He once, in casual conversation, identified the Saviour with New Labour. ‘Jesus was a moderniser,’ he asserted.

It may be the Prime Minister’s evangelical confidence that he enjoys a direct, unmediated connection with God which enables him to lay claim to be a Christian while neglecting Church teaching. The area where this disjunction is most apparent today is the war in Iraq. Tony Blair’s apologists, such as Matthew d’Ancona, have yet to explain fully how religious belief can be at the core of the Prime Minister’s conduct of the war at a time when pretty well every Church leader, from the Pope to the Archbishop of Canterbury, has been opposed to it all along.

The great religious figures of our age feel a repugnance for this war because they understand that at the heart of Christianity is a set of moral absolutes or rules: in the context of Iraq the most relevant of these is the biblical injunction ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Tony Blair’s readiness to propound fresh doctrines of his own has been a striking feature of his premiership in all sorts of areas. He has occasionally brooded in public about the balance between natural law and utilitarianism. On two occasions he has even claimed that he is more attracted to the stern and immutable imperatives laid down by natural law than to clumsy calculations about the greatest good of the greatest number. But natural law comes down heavily against this war in Iraq, just as it does against abortion.

Ultimately the argument for invasion is a pragmatic one. It boils down to the utilitarian criterion that coalition forces will ultimately kill fewer Iraqis than will Saddam. The Iraq imbroglio threatens to illustrate in the starkest way possible the pitfalls of utilitarianism: that it is not merely wrong to break with the rules of religion, but doing so can have all sorts of unintended and undesirable consequences.

It is characteristic of those who feel that they have an unmediated line to the Lord that they think that they can make the law themselves. Tony Blair rewrote the rulebook for the Labour party. And this is what he and George Bush are doing in Iraq: their readiness to ignore the procedures of international institutions such as the United Nations is a manifestation of the same sort of arrogance. According to the precepts of natural law, the humility and discipline of religion express a wisdom that is deeper than individual men and women can readily understand. These are boundaries which, as Mr Blair may be about to discover, are impertinent to transgress.

There

Got it all done – the Passion book, the St. Nicholas project and three columns. I’m ready for a break!

My house is, too. We got some work done yesterday – cleaned the garage and the basement, and went through Katie’s clothes, but I still need to clean the back porch and go through mine and Joseph’s clothes. My study could use a good cleaning too, as it always does after a period of intense work, what with file folders and books thrown all over the floor.

I’ve got nothing of any substance to add to the war discussions, except this: I have never had any doubt that the American military would wipe the floor with the Iraqis, and never doubted that once Hussein’s power structures were removed, the Iraqi people wouldn’t be relieved. My concern has always been threefold: a) the questionable fit of this action with just war thinking b) the regional consequences, including an intensifying of anti-Americanism, a strengthening of Islamic fundamentalism, and a very difficult post-war “peace” in Iraq filled with suicide bombers c) the possibility of Iraq becoming another post-Tito Yugoslavia, or, like the newly “democratic” Algeria, promptly electing an Islamo-fascist government.

Granted, all of those are “maybes” and hesitation and fear never accomplished anything. We can’t be constrained by the possibility of negative consequences, or else nothing would ever get done. Most important, then, are the questions of the “justness” of this war, and no , it’s not a dead issue even though the action is well under way and indeed, perhaps almost finished. It’s not a dead issue because the ultimate evaluation of the war on that level (which cannot be done until well after it’s over), bears on how we evaluate future potential confrontations between nations.

If we continue to run over Iraqi resistance, killing thousands of them and losing under a hundred of our own, and end up finding no WMD, either because they weren’t there, they were destroyed, moved to Syria, or got buried in the past two weeks of bombing, I really don’t understand how this action can be justified as one embarked on against a regime that was a “threat” to us (indeed, as President Bush declared on March 6, a “direct threat.), and what that means for future nations contemplating declarations of war against other nations they deem to be a “threat” to them. Now, if Hussein (or whoever is running Iraq) is simply lying in wait, offering little resistance on the outskirts of Baghdad because they’re planning to unleash chemical, bio or even some kind of nuke on the troops when they’re all amassed in one place, the threat will be tragically, criminally clear.

But until then, we will just have to wait and see.

To Mark Shea:

Michael's not the only one.

I'm half French, too - my mother was a Bergeron...

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