Assume the Position

Saturday, October 26, 2002
England falls thru timewarp, disavows capitalism and affirms Orwell's 1984 depicted utopia.
"We do not believe in capitalism. Capitalism is something that threatens inequality across the whole of society."
Then there are the astonishing posters officially going up on buses and bus shelters all around the country.

(Poster link at Samizdata via Ed Driscoll, This is London link found in the comments there.)

GROUND ZERO® Update — All the news that's fit to invent. This Mobile Register story is too funny to just tack onto the bottom of my previous post. Apparently, the only people at Ground Zero were the media hounds chasing their tails and one Sergeant from the Perry County Sheriff's Office who went out there to see what they were doing (emphasis added):
Perry County Sheriff's Sgt. Carlton Hogue had just gotten home Wednesday night when his telephone started ringing off the hook with news that federal agents were searching a nearby defunct police training range in connection with the Washington, D.C.-area sniper hunt.

It wasn't other law enforcement officials calling. It wasn't the FBI, or the ATF. It was friends, neighbors and relatives.

"They asked me what was going on at Ground Zero," said Hogue, referring to the training range that had suddenly brought this historic town of about 3,500 onto the national news. Tuesday night and Wednesday, CNN and FOX news kept repeating that the range had been searched or would be searched. News helicopters chopped overhead. TV trucks parked outside, bearing their satellite dishes, ready to transmit action. Any action. Even rumors of action.

Hogue drove out to the site to see what was going on. What he found was a media feeding frenzy, local and national TV stations and newspapers fearful of missing any possible development in the national story of one of the biggest manhunts on U.S. soil since abortion clinic-bombing suspect Eric Robert Rudolph evaded the FBI in 1998.

Hogue said he told reporters that he hadn't been notified of any federal search in the area. And, he said, he was sure that if a search had taken place, the FBI would have notified them as a courtesy.

Off and on throughout the night -- he slept about three hours -- he checked back on the reporters. They were still there.

"They thought they were onto something," he said. "I'm sure it was an honest error."

Marion Mayor Edward Daniel…too, learned that Marion was in the spotlight Wednesday night when acquaintances and reporters started calling, saying that his town was on national television.

He hadn't heard a word from law enforcement, which made him doubt the veracity of such claims. Some former students are FBI agents in Montgomery, he said. He has good FBI contacts in Mobile. He felt sure that if something big were happening there, he would have heard about it from them. The city's police chief called the FBI, which told him that they were not searching Marion, nor had they.

Officials on Thursday, however, said there was no warrant served and no truth to the report that Ground Zero may have some link to the sniper probe.

"The FBI has no interest in that location in this particular matter," said Tim Munson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Mobile office.

And an official with the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which sniffs out extremist operations, said Ground Zero "has never been on our radar screen in any way."

"We have absolutely no indication that Ground Zero is affiliated" with extremists, white supremacists or any militia groups, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The article's subhead refers to Ground Zero as the "nearby defunct police training range," and later in the article it says "locals said the place has been dormant for months." It then gives a condensed version of how Ground Zero originally came to the FBI and media attention last year and how ABC dug it up again in respect to the July-August trial of Sulayman Bilal Zain-ul-Abidin (who can probably best be considered as running a scam, which is apparently why he was found not guilty of any charges related to terrorism).

Gee, no terrorists, no extremists, no white supremacists, and no militia groups—but hell, we're the news media and if we think their should be a connection and the FBI should be searching then we'll just say they did.

Thursday, October 24, 2002
GROUND ZERO® Again. I don't normally do breaking news but since I'm getting "Ground Zero USA," "Mark Yates," "Sakina Security Services," and "Sulayman Bilal Zain-ul-Abidin" search hits because of two older posts (1 and 2) here is the part of the current report from WSFA Channel 12, Montgomery, Alabama (emphasis added):
National reports claim warrants have been served in the town of Marion, in Perry County. Some reports indicate any warrants issued may be for evidence more so than suspects. We spoke with the mayor of Marion, where it's reported warrants have been served. He said he couldn't confirm anything. Mark Yates, who runs the training camp, categorically denies that any warrants have been issued for Ground Zero USA. The FBI office in Mobile has issued a statement saying, "We have no interest and have not searched nor visited the Ground Zero location in Marion, Alabama in reference to the sniper investigation."

[Montgomery] Mayor [Bobby] Bright said Thursday morning, "I have no information. I am not aware to what degree the camp in Marion is involved in this case whatsoever."

Additionally, you can read Mark Yates somewhat self-serving August 9th, 2002, press release describing how Ground Zero became linked to al Qaeda and why he says he couldn't say much about it. Just the highlights without some of the self-aggrandizement (emphasis added):
At the request of The UK Metropolitan Police Service's Anti-Terrorist Branch, and the Crown Prosecution Service, DR Mark D. Yates gave evidence for the prosecution On 11th July 2002 in Court four, at The Old Bailey London, England. In the case against SULAYMAN BILAL ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN a.k.a. Francis Etim. The Judge imposed reporting restrictions during the case and this press document has been released post sentencing.

For a number of years DR Yates has run law enforcement, security, anti-terrorist and VIP protection training programs world-wide. Since 1999 in his capacity as Director of training at GROUND ZERO® he has provided intelligence and information to various legitimate government security, intelligence, investigation & law enforcement agencies ref personnel attending firearms and VIP protection training programs in Alabama, USA and prior students.

All information regarding program attendee's names, addresses, passport details and photographs, have been made available to the FBI & the UK Anti-Terrorist Branch. The FBI confirmed that no one who had attended any training programs at the GROUND ZERO® training venue in the USA had shown up on any terrorist watch list.

Post September 11th 2001 Sulayman was arrested in London allegedly on various charges under the new British Anti-terrorist laws. Two British reporters ran a very misleading sensationalised story in a major Sunday newspaper. Despite speaking personally with DR Yates the day before publication to seek factual clarification on some of the points they intended to print, they chose to ignore his comments and ran a story. This article was seriously flawed and in many parts factually incorrect. This sparked n international media frenzy, which resulted in another USA reporter running an almost identical factually incorrect piece. The direct result of which resulted in DR Yates receiving various threats.

He gave evidence for the prosecution from approx. 11-30 am until 5pm. Both the prosecution and the defence counsel accepted that Mark D. Yates and the Ground Zero ® training facility in Alabama, USA were legitimate and a professional law enforcement and security training venue.

No implication was made about any Muslim terrorists attending the training venue and it was quickly established that Sulayman the accused, had not been to any of the GROUND ZERO® USA training programs.

What was questioned, was that the accused had, without permission plagiarised GROUND ZERO®'s direct mail training flyers verbatim. He then applied segments of copyrighted documentation and placed it on his own Sakina corporate web site. It was clearly established in court that the accused had no authority or permission to utilize any of the GROUND ZERO® documentation. It was further established that there was no official or unofficial business or partnership link between the accused and his company Sakina and DR Mark D. Yates.

The prosecution and defence attorneys also established that the accused had not paid, or sent any Muslim's to the GROUND ZERO® USA training venue. It was further established that the accused and DR Yates had not seen each other since 1997. The court reliably established that DR Yates had legally registered the trademark, GROUND ZERO® approx 2 years prior to the post September 11th set up of the world trade centre disaster area also known as Ground Zero, and that all references were simply coincidental.

On August 9th 2002 at approximately 12-35pm UK time, the jury returned a 10 to 2 majority Not Guilty verdict against SULAYMAN BILAL ZAIN-UL-ABIDIN a.k.a. Francis Etim.

And the July 26th, 2002, NBC refutation of the ABC's July and NBC's December news stories (emphasis added):
State officials say an investigation uncovered no evidence that a camp near Marion was used as a terrorist training camp.

Marion Police Chief Tony Buford said he was misquoted. Buford said the camp is used by police officers from Alabama and Louisiana for training that includes target practice.

A spokesman for Gov. Don Siegelman and Department of Public Safety officials said they are aware of the reports. But after conducting background investigations of the site they found no reason to be concerned.

In Birmingham, FBI spokesman Craig Dahle also said his agency's probe found no link to any terrorist or other unlawful activity. He said the owner was licensed to train people engaged in protection services.

Just one of those stories that will never die. Yates gets some publicity from it, but it ain't "free publicity" if he's collecting some unwarranted death threats from it as well.

The thoughtful, idealistic, tolerant and caring Left. (link via a comment on LGF.)

Preemptive? I suspect Paul W. Schroeder's "Iraq: The Case Against Preemptive War" in The American Conservative (link via Sassafrass Log) will grab a lot of attention and be joyfully received by the anti-any-and-every-war Left and the just-not-this-war Right. I have little doubt it will soon be thoroughly responded to by the Victor Davis Hansons in the conventional media and the Steven Den Bestes in blogdom. I will just point out what I consider is the major flaw in Schroeder's argument (one that has been aided by the Bush 41, Clinton, and Bush 43 administrations): It is a mistake to characterize an escalation from a lull in an ongoing war in reaction to violations of a cease fire as starting a "preemptive war" from a position of peace.

Well before the congressional authorization I said:

Can the president escalate an ongoing war without congressional approval? The answer is probably yes.

I am not talking about escalating the War on Terror if sufficient evidence is found linking Iraq to direct support of international terrorism, I am talking about the ongoing war (state of armed hostilities) with Iraq.

A week before Bush's September speech I said:
One of the most important things Bush can make clear in his September 12 statement is that the question is not one of "containment or war" because, in the case of Iraq, the past decade has shown that "containment IS war" and the question of the moment is simply what kind of war is best suited to the effort at hand.
Bush failed to make that point and Schroeder (as well as others) have capitalized on it in declaring any escalation in Iraq as a "preemptive war."

[If you believe we are at peace with Iraq (a necessary condition for the war to be considered "preventive"), will you please be the one to write the letters to the Kurds in the North and Marsh Arabs in the South and explain to them why we will no longer be enforcing the No-Fly Zones and bombing Iraqi air defense systems.]

Here are Schroeder's criteria to justify a preventive war:

Whether starting a preemptive war is justified in a particular instance is not primarily a question of international law. The critical question is whether the action is one of aggression or of legitimate self-defense, and no law can answer that. There are, however, criteria for judging the action, deriving from something more basic in international politics than specific international laws: the unwritten understandings international actors reach on an ongoing basis as to what is within the bounds, is permissible or not under the rules of the game. These understandings change with time and circumstance, of course, but a fairly wide and stable consensus on this particular issue has developed, especially in recent centuries.

To justify a resort to preemptive war, a state needs to give reasonable evidence that the step was necessary, forced upon the initiator by its opponents, and also that it represented a lesser evil, i.e., that the dangers and evils averted by war outweighed those caused the international community by initiating it. This requires showing that the threat to be preempted is (a) clear and imminent, such that prompt action is required to meet it; (b) direct, that is, threatening the party initiating the conflict in specific concrete ways, thus entitling that party to act preemptively; (c) critical, in the sense that the vital interests of the initiating party face unacceptable harm and danger; and (d) unmanageable, that is, not capable of being deterred or dealt with by other peaceful means. These criteria are naturally open to interpretation and contest. They represent, however, a consensus of enlightened international opinion, make sense of historical experience, and are easily illustrated with historical examples. They have helped actors in the past judge claims and weigh arguments for preemptive wars and have had some effect in deterring illegitimate resorts to it.(2) They are stringent; most claims made to justify preemptive wars do not pass the test, which is as it should be. But the criteria are not unrealistic or utopian, and do allow for preemptive war in certain particular cases.(3)

(1) I will mention only one such argument in passing here: the superficially plausible idea that a preventive war launched against Hitler’s Germany in 1936 at the time of Germany’s reoccupation of the Rhineland or in 1938 at the annexation of Austria would have prevented all the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust. (A war at the time of the Munich Crisis would not have been preemptive, but rather a legitimate defensive war fought by France and the Soviet Union in fulfillment of their clear alliance obligations to Czechoslovakia, with Britain joining in for the same balance of power reasons that had brought it into World War I.) My reply, in sketchy thumbnail fashion, would be that asking French and British statesmen in 1936 or early 1938 to launch a preemptive war against Germany on the basis of what Germany had done to that point would amount not only to asking them to commit political suicide, but to demanding that they play God or be God. No one could know in 1936 or 1938 the true, horrible extent of future Nazi crimes and therefore know or predict that preemptive war would prevent a world war of catastrophic dimensions or a Holocaust. The predictable and calculable evils of launching a preemptive war at that time, in other words, outweighed the predictable, calculable evils of waiting and trying to prevent war entirely. The real criticism of British and French policy is not their failure to launch preemptive war, but their failure or refusal to take either the Rhineland occupation or the Anschluss seriously and to undertake a resolute course of deterrence and collective security. In fact, both events caused them to abandon the half-hearted efforts at deterrence of Germany they had initiated and go over to appeasement. Thus the argument for preemptive war in the 1930's really supports the case made here for deterrence.

(2) For example, it was these general criteria that guided Prince Bismarck in rejecting the urgings of General Count Waldersee, the Prussian army's Chief of Staff, for preventive war on Russia in 1888-89, and that led Emperor Franz Joseph and several of his chief ministers to resist up to 1914 the various schemes for preventive war promoted by the Austro-Hungarian Chief of Staff General Conrad von Hoetzendorf.

(3) Let me flesh this out with a little history, not to prove my points (impossible in a short essay) but to illustrate them and keep them from being naked assertions. Four examples of preemptive wars that I consider justified are Prussia's attack on Saxony in 1756, which set off the Seven Years War, Japan's attack on Russia in 1904, and Israel's resort to preemptive attacks on Egypt in 1956 and 1967. In every case all the stated criteria are met. Note, however, that even in these cases those who chose preemptive war were not necessarily blameless, or fighting purely in self-defense. Prussia had largely created the Austro-Russian-French threat against it by its lawless seizure of Austrian Silesia in 1740. Japan, though genuinely threatened by Russian imperialism, also had its own program of imperialism in East Asia. And, as revisionist Israeli historians have proved, territorial expansion was a part of Israeli aims in starting both these wars. Still less do these examples or others make preemptive war, even when justified, necessarily a wise choice or indicate that if victorious it will have good results. The attacking state in all these instances of justified preemptive war won the resulting war or at least did not lose. But each of these preemptive wars, even though successful, led to more conflict and complications later, and the more normal results of preemptive war are much worse. Austria, for example, tried preemptive war twice in the 19th century – against Napoleon in 1809 and against Sardinia-Piedmont in 1859 – and once in the 20th– against Serbia in 1914. In the first and last instances, I would argue (though many historians would disagree) that the Austrians had a pretty good case justifying preemptive war as their only way to remain an independent great power. Yet all three ended disastrously. In other words, preemptive war can occasionally be justified as a last resort, but it is never inherently a good policy – only in certain cases the least bad one available.

Those criteria may be sound guidelines, but under them the 1991 Gulf War could be considered an unjustifiable preventive war as far as the US was concerned and it was considered that way by the anti-war movement at the time.

Schroeder does what so many other opponents of this potential war do in arguing against it—he takes a single reason at a time ("Hussein…has purportedly been trying persistently to acquire…weapons of mass destruction") and then argues that that sole reason doesn't provide enough justification to engage in a preventive war to remove Hussein from power because other actions might work to mitigate that specific threat.

For purposes of deterring Iraq, the coercive measures imposed since 1991 have worked well. Before 1991, Hussein did many things in foreign policy that were clearly aggressive, above all his war on Iran and his seizure of Kuwait. Since then, Iraq, greatly weakened and restrained, has done nothing that could be called aggression against its neighbors. This is successful deterrence – effected, to be sure, at some cost to the United States in terms of effort and reputation, and enormous cost to the Iraqi people in terms of lives and standard of living, but, from a purely power-political point of view nonetheless the desired overall outcome.

The fundamental offense committed by Iraq against the United States is not any particular aggression or criminal act. The only one of these in the litany of Saddam Hussein's crimes and to which we decided to respond was his occupation of Kuwait, and that was duly reversed and punished. The offense has been and still is that Iraq, under the leadership of someone we consider an international criminal, has purportedly been trying persistently to acquire the same weapons that both we and some of our best friends and a number of neutral states already possess, namely, weapons of mass destruction.

I, however, don't really think the"coercive measures" "have worked well", especially considering Hussein's 1996 attack on Patriotic Union of Kurdistan forces in Irbil, even if they weren't Iraq's "neighbors" but Iraqi Kurds instead. Not only does he overestimate how well the "coercive measures" have been at "successful deterrence," I think he greatly underplays the costs of post-1991 containment to the US. And I don't even know what to make of the understatement that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was "duly reversed and punished."

But that style of argument is effective because there is no single reason that in itself solely justifies escalating to a full-scale, regime toppling war with Iraq, especially if it is considered a preemptive war started from a state of peace. Reason 1 fails critera b, reason 2 fails criteria d, reason 3 fails criteria a, and reason 4 fails criteria c—see there is no justification for war. Nevermind that reasons 1-4 taken together satisfy criteria a-d and the various measures other than war that might be used to mitigate one problem exacerbate the other problems. In the case of Iraq, it is the totality of the numerous offenses and threats coupled with the ineffectiveness and adverse effects of containment that tend to justify escalated military force.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Flipping-off the Continentals. Porphyrogenitus nails "The World's Free Riders" on defense.

"Res ipsa blah ... blah ... blah." Thomas Barlas writes in The Press of Alantic City about one aspect of the shortened New Jersey Senate campaign caused by the Torricelli/Lautenberg swap, "E-mails a primary weapon in this election."
The literal translation of the Latin term "res ipsa loquitur" is "the thing speaks for itself" - except when it involves New Jersey's U.S. Senate race.

Democrat Frank Lautenberg's late entry into the contest gave him and Republican Douglas Forrester only about a month to do battle with each other.

One of the chief weapons: E-mail, and lots of it. It's swamping the media, party members, supporters and anybody else unfortunate enough to be on the candidates' e-mail lists.

The content involves just about anything Forrester and Lautenberg can dig up on each other. There are 20-year-old quotes, a top 10 list of reasons Lautenberg won't debate, twisted takes on each other's statements and laundry lists of voting records.

For instance, the Forrester campaign issues an occasional e-mail called "res ipsa loquitur." The latest one - No. 9 in the series - lists quotes from Lautenberg, who served three terms in the U.S. Senate, and newspaper passages to illustrate what the Forrester campaign contends is Lautenberg's ambivalence about the office.

The quote from 1999: "The fact of the matter is the years spent in the Senate have been a large personal inconvenience and effort."

The newspaper passage is from 1983: "The new senator was sworn in last Monday during a ski trip to Vail, Colo."

The Lautenberg campaign responded with an e-mail titled "res ipsa blah ... blah ... blah." It contained excerpts from articles Forrester wrote as a columnist for a now-defunct weekly publication.

"I would rather be beaten with rubber hoses," Forrester, the former mayor of West Windsor, wrote in 1993 about running for office again. An excerpt from a 1991 column reads, "My wife claims that the high point of my political wisdom occurred when I decided to excuse myself from the electoral process."

Just how successful this barrage of electronic election emissions is in getting the point across isn't clear. Its receipt by reporters is often followed by a few clicks of their computer mouse, with the final click on the command "delete."

While the effectiveness of the emails may be unknown, it appears the switch may be working for the Democrats.
A survey of 603 voters, conducted from Wednesday to Sunday by Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, showed Lautenberg leading Forrester 52 percent to 43 percent with a 4 percent margin of error.

On Oct. 7, the university published a similar poll giving Lautenberg a 4-point advantage.

Separate polling statistics from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University…of 800 voters…showed Lautenberg leading Forrester by 47 percent to 39 percent.

More on the latter poll from WNBC:
Lautenberg led Forrester 47 percent to 42 percent among 460 likely voters surveyed last week, according to The Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Poll released Monday. The margin of sampling error for that group was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Likely voters surveyed by the same poll early in the month split 44-44.

"(Republicans) can take solace that they're close, but unless they peel independents off, that's as close as they get," poll director Cliff Zukin said.

"This ain't rocket science," Lautenberg spokesman Tom Shea said. "New Jersey is home of the Million Mom March. It's the most pro-choice state in the nation."

Bill Pascoe, Forrester's campaign manager, said his staff remained upbeat because the gap is narrow among likely voters.

"This is a dead heat among likely voters, and those are the only voters we should be paying attention to now," Pascoe said.

If Lautenberg pulls far enough ahead by the end of the week, maybe next week the Republicans will substitute former NJ governor Christine Todd Whitman into the Senate race and give Forrester her currrent job as EPA Administrator.

North Korea's Non-Surprise. The title of this August 1999 article in the Asia Times says it all, "PYONGYANG WATCH: Blackmail as development policy."
Starving its population and eliciting international concern while feeding the armed forces and building up stockpiles for emergency use in war are elements of the same gambit.

To date, the strategy has met with an astonishing degree of success.

* In return for North Korea's giving up its own nuclear ambitions and disassembling its graphite-moderated reactors, KEDO, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (established in 1995 following the crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons program inspections), has pledged or allocated well over $5 billion to build two ''proliferation-safe'' light-water reactors (LWRs) in North Korea and supply some 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil per year to the country in the interim period.

* Since the summer of 1996, the United States, South Korea, Japan and other countries and international organizations have supplied some $500 million in food aid and cash grants to North Korea in return for Pyongyang agreements to enter into diplomatic talks on everything from assent to four-way talks between the US, North and South Korea, and China to agreement to participate in missile proliferation negotiations and resumption of talks on inspection of a second suspected nuclear site.

On the latter issue alone, North Korea initially asked for $300 million for a single inspection, but then said it would accept another large donation of food instead. The asking price for discontinuing the practice of ballistic missile exports to countries such as Iran and Pakistan - a practice publicly admitted by North Korea in August 1998 - is $1 billion. This ''compensation'' demand has now been repeated in advance of the expected Taepodong 2 launch. It remains to be seen how the US - the principal addressee of the demand - will react.

How did the US react? September 1999:
Late last week the Clinton administration announced the easing of trade, banking and travel restrictions on North Korea which had been in place since the Korean armistice in 1953. Is this another flash-point in the making? John Howard reports.

The loosening of sanctions came after Pyongyang apparently - I use the word advisedly - backed off on a promise to fire a long-range ballistic missile over Japan, as it did just over a year ago. The Japanese viewed the initial missile "test" as a grave provocation and made it clear that any repetition would have consequences.

Enter Bill Clinton, again, with a deal which the North Koreans could hardly refuse. The deal is this; North Korea agrees not to do what it shouldn't be doing in the first place - threatening its neighbours - and in return Washington will open its bag of goodies.

It's a pattern which began in 1994, when North Korea agreed to abandon a nuclear weapons programme - in return for two modern nuclear-power plants and 500,000 tons of heavy heating oil a year, all for free.

Less than three years later, Pyongyang announced that it was pulling out of talks with the US, China and South Korea - unless it got 100,000 tons of high-quality foodstuffs from Washington.

Clinton anted-up.

Then North Korea demanded - and got - hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in exchange for allowing America to look for the remains of US servicemen listed as missing in the Korean war.

It also successfully extorted millions from Seoul to permit the reunification of Korean families seperated by the post-war demilitarised zone (DMZ). Then, Pyongyang demanded - and got - more than $1 billion from the south to allow religious pilgrims to travel north to the DMZ.

Most recently, North Korea successfully extorted hundreds of thousands of tons of food aid from the US to permit neutral inspectors to view a suspected nuclear weapons plant - but only after stalling for months after evidence that bombs were being built first surfaced.

And so it goes. The North Koreans take actions that threaten peace - or offend human decency - and then agree to stop only when the price is right. Even then, it's not clear that they've complied with their own promises.

"We are once again entering the cycle of extortion with North Korea," said House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin Gilman. "Ultimately, we have no assurances that North Korea has halted missile development, or its programme for weapons of mass destruction," he said.

So why has anyone at all been surprised that North Korea "brazenly admits it's building nukes?" After all, it's tough to attempt extortion if you don't admit to possessing something to use as a blackmail threat. The same goes with Korea's admission of kidnapping Japanese citizens and allowing the 5 "survivors" to visit—there will probably be some pricey demands after they return to North Korea.

"[T]here are a few things we can reasonably suppose, and one of them is that when you broadcast to the world that a certain area will be saturated with police officers, and that this same area will be under surveillance by military aircraft capable of monitoring the movement of every last living creature for miles around, the evil-doer is very likely to do his evil elsewhere. As indeed the sniper did, shooting a man as he exited a restaurant with his wife last Saturday in Ashland, Va., about 90 miles south of where the police were focusing their efforts." -- The pseudonymous LAPD officer Jack Dunphy writing in NRO (link via Patio Pundit).

Monday, October 21, 2002
"Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood."
The Ritter affair swirls with its own mysteries. Primarily, his old friends wonder: What happened?

"I like Scott and I honestly think he's a man of great integrity, but I don't know what's going on in his mind," says Tim Trevan, ex-spokesman for the U.N. special commission to disarm Iraq (UNSCOM). "I do believe his credibility is shot . . . and I think that's very sad."

A former nuclear inspector, David Kay, said recently in Congress: "He's gone completely the other way. I cannot explain it on the basis of known facts."

Richard Butler, Ritter's old boss at UNSCOM, said on CNN: "I don't know why, I'm not a psychoanalyst."

"He has completely marginalized himself and turned himself into a pathetic, strange figure," says Francis Brooke, Washington adviser to the anti-Hussein Iraqi National Congress. "Which is too bad, because he is not crazy."

Ritter says he's been "slandered" by such personal attacks because the critics can't handle his message. "What about my record leads to people disrespecting me?" he asks, heatedly. "I'm someone who has been an assiduous adherent to the concepts of integrity and truth since Day One -- from the very moment I entered the Marine Corps till today."

Former colleagues cannot reconcile the contradictions. They grope to uncover some key fact or event that might answer their questions. Great characters require a motivation. What's his?

"The thing he wants most is attention," says Danielle Pletka, a former staffer on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who ran the 1998 hearing at which Ritter also testified that Iraq remained "an ugly threat." "He is cynically manipulating information in order to call attention to himself."

Others say Ritter seeks the spotlight for a simple reason: He needs money. He relies on speaking engagements for income; he has to promote his film and books.

(link via Henry Hanks)
Ritter's "credibility is shot" because, as far as I can tell, he's never provided a rational for changing his view. His protestations that he's just being a "good American patriot" are beside the point. He says, "I'm about the purity and the integrity of the process, and if Iraq deviates from this process -- wham, the hammer comes down! … I'll be the one holding the hammer." And yet, there was never any "purity" or "integrity" to the process and Iraq did nothing but "deviate" (lie and obstruct) during the entire inspection process, and now Ritter opposes using the hammer—unless Ritter's definition of "hammer" comes from the Blue Helmet glossary: a nastygram from Kofi Annan backed by a threat of further nastygrams.

Sunday, October 20, 2002
A horrible and wicked thought. I ran across James DiBenedetto laying the fisk on the latest idiocy from Mary McGrory, which made me think of this gut-wrenching possibility:

Another remake of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, this time with Mary McGrory and Maureen Dowd. The highpoint would be Jane (Maureen Dowd/Bette Davis/Lynn Redgrave) serving a canary and rat soufflé to Blanche (Mary McGrory/Joan Crawford/Vanessa Redgrave) while they screech over and over…"Boy Emperor"…"Warlord"…"Boy Emperor!"…"Alexander the Great!"…

No eggs, no omlet. On October 3, 2002, the American Enterprise Institute, where Richard Perle (MoDo's nemisis soufflé chef) is a resident fellow, held a conference, "The Day After: Planning for a Post-Saddam Iraq." Here are some of Perle's remarks from the transcript:
And we will ultimately be driven from the default position to which governments invariably retreat, which is to alter the status quo as little as possible. It is, in fact, the natural posture of governments to accept the status quo, and when it becomes monstrously inconvenient, to change it to the minimum extent necessary.

But the liberation of Iraq, the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, can't be a halfway measure. It can't stop with a short-term objective, however important, of removing from his hands the weapons of mass destruction. Can one imagine sending the Chicago police into take Al Capone's weapons away, and leaving him there? Can anyone imagine that if the weapons of mass destructions were disgorged tomorrow, we could be confident with Saddam in place that we wouldn't face the same problem again?

Of course not. The only solution in Iraq is the substitution of the thugs who now run the place with the kinds of people you see at this table.

I want to make only a couple of very brief additional comments. One of the more dangerous ideas that is already around is the idea that in the immediate post-Saddam situation, power will flow to Iraqis who are now in Iraq. One hears this notion about the Department of State. It's based on, it seems to me, the idea that people who have labored outside Iraq for the liberation of their country somehow have less credibility than those who have found a way to get along with Saddam's regime.

I think this is profoundly mistaken, and it is yet another example of the magnetic attraction of the status quo. I think it will turn out to be nonsense. The people of Iraq are not going to empower those who have lived among them as part of the oppression that they will be determined to root out.

So it is people like the people on this panel who will return to Iraq, and Iraqis in an Iraqi diaspora, who in large numbers I believe will return to Iraq, to work together with those millions of Iraqis who have been the victims of Saddam Hussein.

A second notion that it seems to me is all too readily accepted around the diplomatic establishment, but needs to be challenged, is the idea that the whole of the Arab world is somehow going to align itself with Saddam Hussein, that if military action against Iraq takes place, Arabs everywhere will associate themselves with what is one of the most vicious regimes in human history.

I think that is a demeaning, condescending view of Arabs. And I think in the event, when it becomes clear that the end result of military action against the regime of Saddam Hussein will produce the opportunity, the kind of vision you've heard around this table, the Arab world or most of it, and certainly most of the Muslim world, will consider that their honor and dignity has been restored by removing from among them a regime that they have every reason to despise along with the rest of us.

Nothing about breaking eggs to make an omlet or soufflé.

Mindless MoDo Metaphor Madness. The latest inane column by Maureen Dowd leaves Josh Chafetz "speechless." It is one long example of the 3rd Law: "It is better to be cute than coherent," from Chafetz's "The Immutable Laws of Maureen Dowd." However, it's not even cute (is it ever?) and her tripe soufflé falls flat.

Chafetz isn't quite "speechless" and says a few things about the column, concluding with:

But, mostly, what we get this week is just utter incoherence. When I write a blog post as fantastically bad as Dowd's column today, I read back over it, then select-all and hit delete. Apparently, the editors of the NYT op-ed page are less discriminating.
Too true.

UPDATE: I really think Dowd's entire rant is just a poorly stretched-out version of the cliché: If ya wanna make an omlet, ya gotta break some eggs.

However, Glen Johnstone provides a fisking and diagnosis: "Calling Dr. Freud."

The Boy Emperor picked up the morning paper and, stunned, dropped his Juicy Juice box with the little straw attached.

There's a psychiatric term for this, I'm sure, but for the moment let's just call it a 'complex.' Take a deep breath, Maureen. Now, let's get it all out.

[MoDo's inane rant with suitable fisking.]

The Boy Emperor was more befuddled than ever.

You're projecting again, Maureen. Don't worry, it's treatable.

I suspect Johnstone's prognosis is overly optimistic.

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