Assume the Position

Friday, March 19, 2004
Keep Your 3,000 - But Maybe the US Should Pull It's 37,000

US allies reconsider Iraq mission.

South Korea has cancelled a plan to send troops to the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk next month, saying it is concerned about security in the area.

The Seoul government says it still intends to send soldiers to Iraq but is looking for a different location.

South Korea was preparing to send more than 3,000 troops - which would have made it the third largest contributor to the multinational force.


The deployment was controversial in South Korea.

The defence ministry cancelled the move because of concerns that troops would have to participate in offensive operations.


The South Korean government says it wants to take part in peaceful reconstruction and keep operational command in its own area.

In a statement, the defence ministry said: "The United States and South Korea have agreed that it is inevitable to change the location for South Korean troops as the security situation in Kirkuk has become worse.

"The two countries agreed to reconsider a possible location putting the whole of Iraq under review."

The deployment to a new location is now expected by June.

Washington had initially hoped South Korea would send a larger, combat-ready contingent.

But faced with domestic criticism of the war, the Seoul government insisted its troops should focus on reconstruction and relief work.

Acting South Korean President Goh Kun has warned that the country could become a target for terrorist attacks because of its involvement in Iraq.

I would suggest to Acting President Goh Kun that the US would have little use for his 3,000 troops if there weren't 37,000+ Americans currently bogged down in the 50-year "quagmire" on the Korean peninsula. I would further suggest that North Korea acts belligerantly toward the US because of its involvement in South Korea.

Of course, Goh Kun knows all that.

Prime Minister Goh Kun has stepped in as acting president until the court rules on whether to oust Roh or restore his presidential powers.

The initial shock from the unprecedented impeachment has subsided; financial markets have leveled out and protests against the impeachment have dwindled.

The move was initiated by South Korea's conservative opposition -- which favors a tougher stance toward North Korea.

On Wednesday, Goh called for a stronger alliance with Washington and dismissed the North's claim that Roh's impeachment reflected U.S. interference to "install an ultra-right pro-U.S. regime" in Seoul.

North Korea has called the impeachment a U.S.-engineered coup and blamed political "instability" in the south for scrapping inter-Korean economic talks earlier this week.

South Korea has ordered heightened military vigilance against the North and is going ahead with annual joint military exercises with the United States, scheduled to begin Sunday, to test the allies' defense readiness.

Pyongyang on Wednesday declared it would strengthen its "nuclear deterrent" in response to the planned military drills.

Washington and Seoul say the drills, which run through March 28, are only routine defense exercises.

The one exercise that would be intriguing to see would be a mass redeployment to demonstrate how quickly US forces could vacate South Korea; followed by cancelling the second half of the exercise and not returning.

Reuters Sticks to the Script - There Are No Terrorists

The March 11 terrorist attack in Madrid may have taken down Aznar and the Popular Party at the polls, but it hasn't dented Reuters policy.

Spanish Judge to Rule on First Five Bomb Suspects


Police suspect the attack was the first in Europe by al Qaeda or militants linked to it.


The blasts, the worst guerrilla attack in Europe since the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing, had wide political repercussions and prompted a security shake-up across Europe and beyond.


Probing possible links between the Madrid and Casablanca attacks, Spain's best-known judge Baltasar Garzon on Thursday quizzed suspected al Qaeda militant Imad Eddim Barakat Yarkas, also known as Abu Dahdah, about the two strikes.

The hed is OK since it is accurate, though "bombing suspects" might be better since there were multiple bombs. I'll even grant that "militant" is not excessively bad when closely associated with "al Qaeda" on the grounds that if you consider al Qaeda a terrorist organization, then even something like 'al Qaeda member' should be an acceptable term describing a terrorist.

But that middle quote — "worst guerrilla attack in Europe since the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing" — is so glaringly obtuse it's absolutely pathetic. If I was feeling really charitable, I could almost let slide calling, say, Black September's slaughter of Israeli athletes at the '72 Munich Olympics a "guerrilla attack." Almost. But the Lockerbie bombing? Not a chance. I don't know, and I don't think I want to know, what kind of mental contortions Katherine Baldwin or her editors had to go through rationalize that sentence.

Sunday, March 14, 2004
Reality-deprived Editors

It's not much of a surprise that the Boston Herald editorial staff is rooting for the junior senator from Massachusetts. Still, their attempts to brush off Kerry's recent remarks as due to him being "sleep-deprived" seem as flimsy as dreams (via Bill Quick):

But a tired candidate makes mistakes, and we'll charitably chalk up some recent Kerry doozies to exhaustion.

Theories abound that it was no accident Kerry was caught on microphone saying of Republican critics - ah, but not President Bush [related, bio], Kerry aides insist - "These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen."

We fail to see how such an over-the-top statement could have been on purpose because it gains Kerry nothing. A typical Kerry MO is to tag his opponents with going negative first as cover for his own attacks.

More likely, they simply fail to admit that Kerry was preaching to the choir:

Seemingly unaware that his microphone was still on, Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites) used uncharacteristically harsh language Wednesday to describe Republicans as "crooked" and "lying" during a quiet exchange with several workers at the Hill Mechanical Group in Chicago's Ravenswood neighborhood.

As one worker urged Kerry to "tell it like it is" and to "keep smiling," the presumptive Democratic nominee told the man not to worry.

"We're going to keep pounding, let me tell you. We're just beginning to fight here," Kerry said. "These guys are the most crooked, you know, lying group I've ever seen. It's scary."

Considering the pandering he apparently did to Jimmy Hoffa on ANWR to get the AFL-CIO endorsement, he'll tell anybody what he thinks they want to hear. Plus, he's still trying to woo the Deaniacs, so he needs to occasionally have an outburst of anger and fear-mongering to mimic the hallmarks (or totality) of Dean's campaign.

Then there's this bit of sleight-of-phrase by the Herald:

And it had to be the fog of sleeplessness that led Kerry to say that he knew of foreign leaders who were supportive of his candidacy. Somehow, we don't think the support of the detestable French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin will be a real winner in America's heartland.

"…he knew of foreign leaders…" Hardly. Try the actual quote:

"I've met foreign leaders who can't go out and say this publicly, but boy they look at you and say, 'You've got to win this, you've got to beat this guy, we need a new policy,' things like that," he said.

There seems to be no evidence to back up Kerry's claim that he has "met" with any foreign leaders since he started campaigning. The Herald phrasing attempts to turn an apparent bald-faced lie ("I've met foreign leaders…they look at you…") into nothing more than the trivial political mistake of admitting what is commonly understood—that there are foreign leaders in the Anybody-But-Bush club, many of them much more "detestable" than France's.

The Herald's prescription for Kerry in their opening line was, "Give it a rest, Senator." I was going to suggest they give their readership a break, but then I realized that they, like Kerry, are preaching to the choir—a choir that has been sending the same two liberals to the Senate for decades.

UPDATE: Moira Breen says Kerry's claims of support by foreign leaders are now taking the "Usenettian dweeb approach:"

It might, theoretically, be a wise move to attempt to peruade the American public that George W. Bush's unpopularity abroad is detrimental to U.S. interests. If so, then there must be a way to get this point across while maintaining an image of intelligence and maturity. Instead, in response to Colin Powell's call for John Kerry put up or shut up on the issue of Kerry's alleged great support among foreign leaders, Mr. Kerry has opted for the "I have a lot of supporters in email" Usenettian dweeb approach. The original assertion was foolish - utterly unnecessary to making the point I assume Mr. Kerry wanted to make. The response to what should have been foreseen as the obvious rejoinder has been sillier still.

It's interesting to contrast the AP story Moria linked with the Reuters version. The difference? Not once does the AP mention Kerry's actual claim to have "met" with foreign leaders—they say, "…he's heard from some…"—while the Reuter's story not only provides the quote of what Kerry said in Flordia, but also says of this latest exchange (emphasis added),

Kerry, who last traveled overseas in late 2002, insisted to reporters that he both talked to and met with foreign leaders who were rooting for him. He said during the town hall that he talked to "several" in the past week.

Score: Reuters-1, AP-0, Boston Herald-0

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