Assume the Position
Saturday, February 08, 2003
"Franco-German Duplicity" Has Become A Redundant Phrase. Here are the reported highlights of the latest "Old Europe," aka "Axis of Weasels," plan to disarm Iraq without war: Der Spiegel in German, The Mirror Google translation, and Reuters' coverage in English on ABCNews. From Reuters's version:
Der Spiegel said the initiative, which it said had been dubbed "Project Mirage," included the following proposals:According to The New York Times,
Livid American officials denounced the fact that they first heard of the possible plan from reporters.
The Times of Oman uses AFP and Reuters reports to provide a bit more detail into why US officials probably feel like they've been ambushed.
The way the proposal had emerged further deepened US "suspicions" about what the French and Germans — who both oppose a war on Iraq — were up to, the official added under cover of anonymity. Rumsfeld first heard about the plan when he was asked about it by a camera crew on the margins of the annual Munich security conference.While it might initially sound like a reasonable plan, that first item is what should really make US officials "livid." Der Spiegel actually reports the approximation as 200,000 US troops. This is a plan for containment, but not in the way it is usually considered.
Here are standard definitions of "containment" from Dictionary.com that should be familiar to most people:
con·tain·mentHowever, in an older dead-tree dictionary I find the following definitions:
con·tain·ment n.When you consider "containment" as a military term, you should see that it is a double-edged sword: while the enemy forces are tied-up, so are yours. There are some 37,000 US troops in South Korea that cannot be withdrawn safely or easily. Prior to the current build-up, "containment" of Iraq since the end of the Gulf War has kept around 17,000 to 30,000 US troops contained in the Persian Gulf to enforce the sanctions and maintain the No-Fly Zones.
Rather than effectively do anything about Iraq, this Franco-German plan seems designed to try and contain the United States even more by locking down some 200,000 US troops for an indefinite stay (another decade or more?) everywhere in the Persian Gulf except Iraq.
UPDATE 2/9/2003: Scott Ott's satire, "U.N. Troops to Serve as Human Shields in Iraq," hits on the most widely held perception about UN peacekeeping missions: peacekeepers "often…act as a buffer between hostile parties." In this case, of course, they would appear to be protecting Iraq from the US.
The Mother Of All Surrenders II - A quick look at the morale of the main Iraqi army.
The view of military forces in northern Iraq by a recent defector/deserter, Private Abass Shomail (emphasis added):
Conditions back in the Iraqi trenches were not so good, he said. "We have two blankets for every soldier, but they are very thin and don't keep us warm. The officers beat us. And the food is disgusting. I'm only paid 50 dinars [about £3] a month."The status of the Iraqi army in southern Iraq by UN Iraq-Kuwait Observer Mission officers (emphasis added):
UNIKOM officers who patrol the 9-mile-wide demilitarized zone, created after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, and who travel in southern Iraq provided a firsthand independent look at war preparations and troop morale in the region.
Friday, February 07, 2003
Slammer Scammer. Dan Verton was taken in by a hoax engineered by Brian McWilliams. Not bad for a couple of journalists.
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Abbas Abdi Sentenced to Eight Years. In my last post I mentioned that Abbas Abdi had been arrested in November 2002. The Iranian court has sentenced him to eight years for "espionage" in association with a poll showing Iranians want increased dialogue with the Great Satan. Fellow pollster Hossein Ali Qazian received a nine-year term, and a verdict has not yet been returned in Behrouz Geranpayeh's trial.