the hatch just blew, dammit


Here are some things I've read lately that have made me upset, but in a good way. The first one is a weblog entry by Ms. Kristina Almquist which was quite good and thought-provoking. She talks about how Saddam Hussein has joined the "Dead or Alive" Club, along with Bin Laden. After all this hype about how evil Saddam is, what a threat he is to world stability, the imperative to bring him to justice for his war crimes, suddenly it's no big deal that no one knows where he is. Or where anyone in his cabinet is. Maybe Saddam has been killed in a blast, maybe he's fled to Syria, maybe one of his doubles has been there all along. No one knows, because no one seems to care about what has happened to all the dangerous thugs in power, or gathering any evidence of war crimes and government torture that Iraq has been liberated from. No big deal.

Robert Fisk has an article about the war in Iraq which made me upset, but in a good way. I don't always like Mr. Fisk's work, particularly his article about being beaten by a mob in Afghanistan. Here, he raises the question of what exactly is happening in Iraq. It seems like it shouldn't be this rare to see someone asking questions about the war, actually following up on a story.

Here's what Mr. Fisk has to say, in the Independent, about lawlessness in Baghdad, a recent Hot Topic in Zembla. "Yesterday I found myself at the Ministry of Oil, assiduously guarded by US troops, some of whom were holding clothes over their mouths because of the clouds of smoke swirling down on them from the neighbouring Ministry of Agricultural Irrigation. Hard to believe, isn't it, that they were unaware that someone was setting fire to the next building?"

"Something is terribly wrong when US soldiers are ordered simply to watch vast ministries being burnt by mobs and do nothing about it."

Kristina makes a reference to Tupac Shakur also being dead/alive in her piece. Coincidentally, I had written the first sentence of a newsflash about how Saddam's mother was going to put out an album of Saddam's unreleased raps. I got about halfway through it, but I started to feel too serious and mad about it to makes jokes about "Ambitions as a Dictatah" or "Keep Yo Head Up (Underneath Yo Veil)". It is a sad day in Zembla when our principal export, sarcasm, feels useless.

Is it too much to ask that the government has some kind of accountability for its statements, its plans, its actions? Now, certainly, I do not buy the official line that neither the midterm elections or the availability of huge oil reserves were the reason for the invasion of Iraq. But, let's say one were to swallow the official line and justification for the invasion of Iraq - disarming Iraq, removing Saddam from power. Have any weapons of mass destruction been found? None. Saddam is out of power, but no one has any idea what happened to him, or anyone in the regime, really.

Here's an article on weapons inspections. The US military hasn't found anything, and they don't even appear to be looking very hard. Could they at least pretend to look? There's something a little respectable about a tenacious lie ("The hatch just blew"), but when liars don't even attempt to make their falsehoods believable, or consistent, it's insulting.

Remember how the invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to capture Bin Laden? No one caught him. Mullah Omar? No one caught him. Remember the guy sending all that anthrax through the mail? No one caught him.

From the above article:
"If no weapons of mass destruction are found, the war in Iraq will mark the second failed military mission since the Sept. 11 tragedy. The first was the invasion of Afghanistan, ostensibly to destroy the Al Qaeda network and capture Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar. Al Qaeda is resurgent in southern Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar remain at large."

If you call in sick at work so you can go snowboarding, don't come back to work the next morning with a sunburn. If you're cutting school with a fake illness, don't get on TV catching a foul ball barehanded. If you're pretending to volunteer at a radio station to cover up your extramarital affair, bring home some audio tapes occasionally. And if you're shooting missiles, dropping megaton bombs, and killing entire civilian families in the course of your illegal war, you better find some goddamn weapons of mass destruction.

Finally, this is a Pentagon briefing from yesterday, April 16. "Clarke" is Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke, and "McChrystal" is Army Major General Stanley McChrystal. I don't think this needs any commentary.

Q: There have been instances in Mosul now for two days running where
civilians have been shot, apparently by U.S. troops. Can you explain
what's been going on there? And has this been an instance of a lack of
fire discipline on the part of the troops and maybe an example of the
kinds of problems we're going to be facing, you know, as they
stabilize the country?

McChrystal: I've seen the reports and the articles about the
incidents. I'm not prepared to judge on either side whether it's a
lack of fire discipline or whether it was caused -- what was the
cause. I will say it highlights the complexity of the situation.

In the first case, which I'm more familiar with, clearly there was a
crowd; at some point there were shots, initially warning shots, and
then lethal shots fired by both sides, or at least effective fire
fired by both sides. And it shows the incredible complexity of dealing
in a situation where we have service people trying to bring stability
to an area and having elements of whatever party or group trying to
oppose that.

Q: "Do you know whether there have been any steps taken to tighten up
-- or at least to -- you know, any additional instructions given to
the Marines so that this kind of an incident is minimized in the

Clarke: Well, let me jump in here, and you can finish up. Again,
people look at one incident. If you look at the last few weeks, the
extraordinary care, the great caution, to protect civilians that U.S.
and coalition forces have employed has been extraordinary; day after
day, example after example of going to great lengths to spare civilian
lives. So I think that's the appropriate way to look at this.

This is an incident. They're still looking into the details.

Q: Just to follow up on this question about the care taken to minimize civilian casualties; we're getting reports that some unexploded cluster bomb munitions have been showing up in and around Baghdad. And human rights groups have been complaining that the use of these weapons, particularly in populated areas, presents an indiscriminate risk to civilians.

Can you just respond to that? First of all, have cluster bombs been
used in populated areas, and does that present a risk to civilians
that perhaps should be looked at?

McChrystal: Sir, I don't know. I cannot categorically state whether or
not they've been used. It is my understanding that they have not been
used in any populated areas. But clearly, I'd have to get more
information to know that. I will tell you that the care which was
taken in targeting throughout this campaign, the right munition for
the right target, has been unprecedented. And so in every case, I will
tell you, scrutiny and care in every phase of it was the governing


Q: For you and General McChrystal. You've said repeatedly, and we've
seen the video, throughout this war that the United States has tried
to target the precision-guided munitions as best as possible. Is the
U.S. military keeping track of Iraqi civilian casualties that may have
occurred as a consequence of any mistakes or other incidents? And can
you tell us when we'll know what kind of metrics you have to compare
the success rate in terms of accuracy of this campaign versus Kosovo
and other ones before that?

McChrystal: We keep track of the effectiveness of our munitions. We
will certainly not at this point try to track specific number of enemy
soldiers killed or unintended civilian casualties. Over time, as we
gather data, we'll gather it both for a humanitarian sense, and then
also for how can we do it better. It goes right to the "lessons
learned" issue: how can we improve our effectiveness so that next time
we can do it even more rapidly and with as little collateral damage
and unintended negative consequence as possible.


Are you that surprised? Republicans have long mastered the art of talking long and loud enough so that it doesn't matter what they say, after awhile the populace will agree because it's the only thing they're hearing.
Before the war, officials talked long and hard about freeing Iraq from Saddam. But no one (certainly not the media) stopped to ask what will be put in his place. There was no plan to prevent the anarchy caused by this power vacuum. Theorists talked about what Bush should do, but no one had any answers as to what he would do. Now, he'll probably find another cause to chase after and this whole war will be forgotten by the American populace. He wont need to find Saddam (who's probably in Russia--a country that can and would protect him far better than Syria) because he can just dodge the issue like he has with so many before him (Osama, his drug habits, etc.) But now there are millions of people, homeless, leaderless and frightened...with no real guide to turn to.
People need leadership, but unfortunately grandstanding and posturing is often mistaken for leadership. It is so ingrained in so many of us to just be the US soldiers who didn't act. They're most likely just really scared and are hiding behind orders (or lack thereof) to justify their actions.
I'm not arguing that this is right, or even acceptable. It makes me feel angry and sad. But I am not surprised at the state of affairs because it is just history repeating itself.

First, I must say thanks for the great CH cross-promotion.

I like the Fisk Independent article too, especially the part where he says, "No doubt the Americans will claim that these [guerrilla resistance] attacks are 'remnants' of Saddam's regime or 'criminal elements.'" Those kinds of predictions , about what the administration will come up with to attempt to justify their next unjustifiable action, are so easy to make if you're paying attention to their rhetorical M.O. and contrasting it with what's really going on. I'm not sure if the administration really cares what happened to Saddam or not, but I'm leaning towards "not", mostly because they were going to let him go free had he taken the offer to step down to avoid war and they seem to be only interested in setting up their new pro-American, puppet government at this point... I won't even go into how fucked up that whole deal is going to be, especially if a bunch of exiled Iraqis who haven't been in Iraq for 20-30 years are basically appointed by the U.S.

BTW: At first, I thought that I had read something by this Fisk dude before and I was going to rip on his credibility, but it turns out it's a different Fisk . Unlike most media books I read, the Fisk one isn't total crap... just mostly. You can borrow it any time.

Good lord. I've pretty much resigned myself from watching the news. I can't wish on a shooting star that the American people at large will be able (outside of hindsight) to recognize what's going on in the world. Hell, I don't know what's going on. But I do know that to do anything, one needs a reason. Apparently, that doesn't apply anymore. What happened in Afghanistan? I mean, what's going on there right now? *I* certainly don't know. We're still in Iraq, but are talking about going into Syria? Why? I see the US in the world a lot like Kristina and Aaronsee the Lakers in the NBA: a lot of cheating going on with the officials (and, subsequently, fans) just looking the other way. Oh, Shaq double-dribbled. Whoops, US troops accidentally shot a bus full of civilians.

You bring up many a relevant issue. One point that you touched upon (and that Kristina discusses at length) is the lack of literature/media questioning the war, which leads to my boycott of the big three (CNN, MSNBC, and with particular disdain, Fox News).

As I see it, there only remain a few bastions of freedom in America. Among them, the Daily Show, the Onion, and the Cement Horizon. Keep up the good fight. You write articles, I'll keep posting replies.

Note to self : bring home some audio tapes occasionally.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

About This Site

Sean Keane on Tumblr

Sean Keane Comedy Dot Com
Short posts, better name-branding

Backup Blog

Friends and Associates

San Francisco Comedy

Fine Sporting Websites

Local Bands


Sean Keane's Internet Famousness

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Sean Keane published on April 17, 2003 3:28 AM.

news from the front was the previous entry in this blog.

pecking and kicking with dimitri is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04