Brian O'Connell

on war, politics, and stuff - go to the new blog

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06/09/2002 - 06/16/2002
06/16/2002 - 06/23/2002
06/23/2002 - 06/30/2002
06/30/2002 - 07/07/2002
07/07/2002 - 07/14/2002
07/14/2002 - 07/21/2002
09/15/2002 - 09/22/2002
09/22/2002 - 09/29/2002
10/06/2002 - 10/13/2002
10/13/2002 - 10/20/2002
10/20/2002 - 10/27/2002
12/29/2002 - 01/05/2003
01/05/2003 - 01/12/2003
01/12/2003 - 01/19/2003
01/19/2003 - 01/26/2003
01/26/2003 - 02/02/2003
02/23/2003 - 03/02/2003
06/22/2003 - 06/29/2003
06/29/2003 - 07/06/2003
07/06/2003 - 07/13/2003
07/13/2003 - 07/20/2003
07/20/2003 - 07/27/2003
08/10/2003 - 08/17/2003
08/17/2003 - 08/24/2003
08/24/2003 - 08/31/2003
08/31/2003 - 09/07/2003
09/07/2003 - 09/14/2003
11/09/2003 - 11/16/2003
11/16/2003 - 11/23/2003
11/23/2003 - 11/30/2003
11/30/2003 - 12/07/2003
12/07/2003 - 12/14/2003
12/14/2003 - 12/21/2003
12/28/2003 - 01/04/2004
01/11/2004 - 01/18/2004
02/01/2004 - 02/08/2004
03/28/2004 - 04/04/2004

Response to Prominent Americans (Not in Our Name)

Complexity and Universal Truth

From Multiculturalism to Anti-Americanism in Six Easy Steps

Andrew Sullivan

A Nickel's Worth of Free Advice

Armed and Dangerous

Asymmetrical Information

Beauty of Gray

Belmont Club

Bjørn Stærk blog


Cinderella Bloggerfeller

Cold Fury




Dr. Weevil

Eject! Eject! Eject!



it comes in pints?


Little Green Footballs

LILEKS (James)

Man Without Qualities

Matt Welch

Michael J. Totten

My Two Cents

Natalie Solent

Oliver Willis


Public Nuisance

Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing

Shadow of the Hegemon

Steven Chapman

The CounterRevolutionary

The Machinery of Night


The Truth Laid Bear

Tim Blair

Twisted Spinster

USS Clueless


Winds of Change.NET


Saudi Arabia = Al Qaeda

Well, not in the details, but for practical purposes, yes.
The report asserts that the Saudi funds represent the most important source of financing for Al Qaeda and that Riyad, pressured by leading officials, has failed to stop the flow of money to Al Qaeda in wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide attacks on New York and Washington.

(Thanks to LGF for the story.)

More and more of this becomes public. I have a very simple view, however. The Saudis are our enemies but we gotta wait before we say so. In the Gulf you've got your Iraq, you've got your Kuwait, you've got your Iran, and you've got your God-awful Saudi Arabia. (For Americans, it's basically a toss-up as to whether our sworn enemy Iran is any better or worse than our sworn friend Saudi Arabia (hint: the Saudis are fucking bastards).) Here's another clue: The Saudis will make attempts at sophisticated communication, but it'll be complete and total lies. Surprise!


On the Other Hand

Remember when Bush made his "Axis of Evil" State of the Union address and there were all those complaints that Iraq, Iran, and North Korea were different and we shouldn't treat them the same? From the BBC:

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Mr Bush's comments "a big mistake".

"First of all they (Iran, Iraq and North Korea) are very different from each other," she said.

And here's French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine:

"The second [divergence in views between France and the US] is the opposition in France, and by many elsewhere in the EU, to the American doctrine of 'rogue states.' That notion groups together a number of states and seeks to treat them in the same manner."

The Bush Administration quickly clarified that they had no intention of treating the three countries in the same way. Here's Colin Powell speaking before a Senate panel shortly after Bush's speech:

"The nation that is of perhaps higher level of concern than others is Iraq. With respect to Iran and with respect to North Korea, there's no plan to start a war with these nations. We want to see a dialog."

So now that the US is clearly treating two-thirds of the Axis of Evil, North Korea and Iraq, very differently from each other, the opposition (dometic and international, loyal and otherwise) is making the opposite argument. We should treat both countries the same! Usually they say we should treat them both like we're treating North Korea. In one case I found, it's the same person! Here's Madeleine Albright again, this time quoted in the CS Monitor:

"How do you explain to the international community," says Albright, "that you're going to war with one country that is developing nuclear weapons, but you're willing to negotiate with another country that already has them?"

George, you've got some 'splaining to do! Why don't we go to war with a country that already has nuclear weapons!? It's mystifying, I know. Naturally, Iraq is one member of the international communtiy that doesn't get US policy at all. They think they're less evil than North Korea, but sadly, get no credit for it. Here's something that appeared in an official Iraq daily (and they're all official):

“Isn’t Iraq’s case the opposite of the case of North Korea?” [writer Sami Mahdi asks in Al-Thawra]. “But look at the way America addresses the two situations; how it threatens Iraq, which is free of weapons of mass destruction, with invasion and occupation; how, based on assumptions and probabilities of its own making, it tries to find something against Iraq that Iraq simply doesn’t have.

“Contrast that approach with the US administration’s eagerness to solve the crisis with North Korea by diplomatic means, urging other nations to broker a solution, offering economic inducements (to Pyongyang) and prodding the IAEA to bring the case of North Korean violations before the UN Security Council."

Damned if you do....


Happy New Year To You Too!

Along with the new year, this blog has a new look. Whaddaya think? No doubt it's buggy as hell on other OS/browsers. And you need JavaScript enabled. If you feel so inclined, drop me an email or comment if you see something out of whack.

But I like the looks of it, and it's got pop-up menus!

Anyway, here's to 2003. It's got to be better than 2002 (doesn't it?).



In the article below, I mentioned Flight 92. Of course, it was Flight 93, as M. Simon emailed to remind me. Folks, alcohol and blogging do not mix! Won't someone think of the children!?

And a hello to all the Tim Blair readers clicking over here. Thanks for the link, Tim!


Big Bullshit in Little Australia

The assholes who consider themselves the loyal opposition are spewing their same old divisive warnings and aiming for national paralysis, as is their wont. The Australian federal government has started an anti-terror campaign for TV, radio, and newspapers wherein they ask citizens to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior and to call a 24-hour hotline to report same. Sounds rational right? A country is on the short list and asks all its citizens to be aware and report possible dangers to the authorities. What could be a saner response? Here's a problem:
[The Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists] New South Wales branch chair Dr Louise Newman says she believes health professionals will have to carefully monitor the impact of the campaign on the community, especially the young and those already suffering mental health problems.

She says the campaign is vague and will only heighten tension in the community.

Jesus. Nearly 100 Australians killed by terrorism, but let's be afraid of heightening tensions "in the community". Wait, it gets worse:
The Labour opposition party has claimed it will increase alarm across a country already nervous after the bomb attacks in Bali, in October.

As everyone knows, the worst thing you can do is increase alarm. Sometimes I think it's worse than terrorism itself. (Because the terrorists will have won, etc. Sometimes I think introducing the future perfect tense is the worst crime of all.)
Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, Kevin Rudd, said the advertisements contained no practical information advising people what they are supposed to be alert to.

It's unfortunate that the government can't tell people to be alert specifically for Abu Jaffar of 123 Main St., Brisbane. Of course these complaints are the same crap that the US opposition raised in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 when our own feds told people to be alert to suspicious activity.

I recall that Chris Matthews was a particularly egregious offender. Early on, within 6 months of 9/11, the government would say periodically that we were on high alert, and that everyone should be alert to suspicious activity, and that there was a lot of "chatter". And Chris would always bitch that perhaps this was information that we didn't need to know- what were we supposed to do with this info- what are we looking out for? Who the fuck knows Chris? The front is on our national territory and the government doesn't have all the answers (and they never will). Live with it, you whiny bastard. But of course, if something had happened during that time of high "chatter" and the government had said nothing, Chris would be among the most prominent to blast the feds for keeping the truth from us (in that ugly, contrarian spirit of journalism that J-schools have turned into a religion). To hell with that.

This is an asymmetrical war. Their terrorists are fighting our civilians. Our military cannot be everywhere, and indeed, we don't want our military stationed in every town and on every corner. We don't want our police listening in on every conversation. Terrorists target places in our country where our military doesn't defend. They live in cells that the police don't suspect. Our military comprises a targeted offense. This is effective when we're fighting terror-supporting nations. But when the terrorists are already here, the only way to handle their random targeting is with a distributed defense. That means armed pilots and an armed citizenry. That means an aware citizenry that knows who to keep an eye on and when to call the cops. That means a citizenry that takes responsibility for their own defense and doesn't rely on the government to lead them by the hand and give them guidelines and charts and mental health tests and reassure them for the sake of keeping tensions or the level of alarm down.

In a way, we're all on Flight 93. Our defense is in our own hands, as our Constitution always insisted. The government has bigger weapons, yes, but the government is made up of our employees, and when you come down to it, they're just people, as capable as some of them are. There is no magic solution there. This bullshit, tell us soothing stories and tell us that everything will be OK crap that some insist on hearing from our governments is a real danger; don't rock the boat; we don't want to hear bad news. That's for suckers. Everything will not be OK. It's already not OK. 3000 people died on US soil.


Déjà Vu All Over Again

While tooling around the Independent, I came across a gem of an article which had this in it:
Aid agencies have warned that one million refugees could flee Iraq if Britain and America do not pull back from war.

Their warnings of a "humanitarian disaster" were echoed yesterday by the International Development Secretary, Clare Short....

So tiresome. As if the Saddam regime were not already a "humanitarian disaster". As if their predictions for Afghanistan weren't totally discredited.

The article also states that 16 million people – more than two-thirds of the population – depend on the already fragile food-rationing system run by the international community. Of course, under the oil-for-food program, Saddam controls food distribution in the south. The international community only controls food distribution in the Kurdish north.


She Blinded Him with Science!

I have purchased, read, and enjoyed several of Richard Dawkins's books: The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, and Unweaving the Rainbow. His illustration of how evolution works and his defense of the theory in the face of the usual critiques are simply brilliant. I especially like the deliberate excoriation of determinism in his books, something that other pop science writers are less than successful at.

But when it comes to politics, the man is absolutely clueless. Here he is in the Independent, naming the biggest villain of 2002:
Villain: George Bush
This illiterate buffoon cheated his way into the White House with the help of his well-connected family and friends. Having dismally failed to anticipate or prevent the atrocity of September 11, he spent the rest of the day zigzagging around the country like a jet-propelled chicken. His personal cowardice was mirrored in the country at large, and he fanned it to his advantage in the mid-term elections, and now, to foment an unprovoked war that has nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with oil. His record on the environment is as appalling as you would expect. Bush is rightly despised throughout the world, and it is humiliating that Britain is seen as his only ally.

There's criticism on auto-pilot. The same trite charges we've heard all along, unthinkingly repeated once more: Bush is a moron, the 2000 election was stolen, the coming war is all about oil. There's no thought behind these statements, and it's even more obvious if one is familiar with his science writing.

As for Bush's cowardice being reflected in the country at large, I suppose Mr. Dawkins would respect the American people more if we were brave enough to do nothing in our own defense, much as Europe does. But again, there's no indication of thought behind what he says here.

Of course, being brilliant in one area is no guarantee that a person will be brilliant in another. I still look forward to reading more of his books, as long as he sticks to science. (Thanks to Steven Chapman for the link.)

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© 2002-2004
Brian O'Connell,
for what it's worth.