Thursday, March 20, 2003
posted by Eric |
No blogger or pundit seems to be paying attention, but the best war writing I have seen is the wonderful and unique series of columns which Caleb Carr has been doing for The New York Observer. His analyses are so crystalline and beautiful, he’ll make you want to spit in the face of the next placard carrying dolt you see, no matter what your war position is or was. His jumping off point is that questions of ethics and morality do not end the moment war is engaged, despite what the whole “not a just war” crowd would have you believe. There is a whole new set of questions of justice or injustice to work out in the way you choose to fight a war once it has begun, which Jimmy Carter et al are suspiciously silent on. And who is the strongest voice in the Bush Administration for paying more attention to this complex set of ethical questions according to Carr? Why its none other than that evil cowboy/rube/superhawk Donald Rumsfeld.
It was not the odious Bill Maher who initially said that the mass murderers on September 11th were not in the strictest since “cowards.” It was Dinesh D’Souza who made the point that it was as a practical matter brave to pilot planes to certain death while the American military was more cowardly in dropping bombs from a safe distance, Maher merely agreed with him. There is some degree of truth to this statement. It is not for the most part the mere fact of America’s post World Ward II military engagements overseas, not the number of times we have gone to war, nor our reasons for or goals in doing so, but the way in which we have gone to war that has so stirred world-wide Anti-Americanism, particularly the way we have gone to war under the influence of Colin Powell. The “Powell Doctrine” stresses amassing “overwhelming force” before attacking the enemy, and also relies heavily on long range aerial bombardment. No matter how “smart” the munitions employed such tactics will always result in higher numbers of civilian casualties. This doctrine of course is based on the cynical calculus that the lives of soldiers in our all volunteer army are worth more than those of “enemy civilians,” which is the reason our troops have so seldom truly been greeted as liberators, and are usually seen as far worse. There is in fact a an NYT op-ed from yesterday in which a World War II veteran muses on how these new methods of warfare have made war more dangerous for civilians than for foot soldiers.
Donald Rumsfeld, who Carr argues is the most intellectual and forward thinking Secretary of Defense ever, has fought against this new doctrine of civilian lives before military, and his stewardship of our war against the Taliban lead to the mostly warm reception we have received from the Afghani people. His reliance on small units of special forces troops on the ground to pinpoint bombing targets more exactly as well as fight, and relying on opposition groups in the country as much as possible, is a major positive step towards our country’s waging the necessary evil of war as ethically and justly as possible. Carr makes far more points than just this. The entire archive is well worth reading.
FIRST WEB WAR
posted by Eric |
This is the first war which large numbers of people are going to follow on the internet. I was going to summarize the best sites to follow, but Slate beat me to the punch, and had a lucky intern do it, link here. He did a really good job. I’m going to add these in a re-vamped and more accurately sub-categorized “links” section soon.
posted by Eric |
The game and gritty Iraq “Tigris Tornadoes” unexpectedly won their play-in game and are in the “big dance” for only the second time in their history. But its not going to be smooth sailing for the upstart surprise winners of the “Rogue State” post-season conference tournament. The 16th seeded long shots have drawn for their first round game the seemingly unbeatable 1st-seeded US “Global Hegemons” and experts, odds-makers, and office pools give them almost no chance to advance into the second round. On top of that, the much beloved/much maligned “Hegies” have the full weight of the Harvey Weinstein/Miramax publicity machine/strong-arm apparatus behind them, a strong lead performance by perennial academy favorite Jack Nicholson, and their life long relationship with Gucci’s Tom Ford to quell any kvetching by Joan Rivers during the pre-show walk-in. The beleaguered Tornadoes are still smarting from their last experience with “March Madness”, in which they suffered a rout so humiliating as to lead to sanctions by the NCAA, the Academy, and the fashion industry.
It hasn’t been an easy ten years for Iraq. They’ve had to contend with limited resources because of the sanctions, which has lead to basketball practice with a non-bouncing dried goat intestine, films made without the backing of the studio finance system, and a degeneration of fashion to allow only for a played-out militaristic look, or a fixation with mustaches and bling-bling which perennial March favorite Ms. Rivers has deemed “ghetto, not ghetto fab.”
Despite these obstacles, the Tornadoes are still excited at this rare chance for post-season/Awards Season glory. They unexpectedly won a tough, play-in game against the wild, unpredictable North Korea “Hermits,” helmed by idiosyncratic bouffant-enthusiast Kim Jong-Il. Known for his run-and-gun style, “Coach K” (as his followers affectionately call him) pulled out all the stops, using nukes, fighter jets, and heaps of trash-talk to try to rattle the Tornadoes, but in the end in Kim’s words “Iraq just wanted it more.” In retrospect, Kim also admits that kidnapping South Koreans to make a low budget Godzilla knock-off was not the way to win the Academy’s favor as “Genre films are always overlooked.” However, the Hermits are still hopeful for a shot at the NIT, and/or perhaps a People’s Choice Award.
Meanwhile, a host of other “bubble teams,” including Syria and Iran, saw their dreams of March glory end in heartbreak, which lead to the perennial charge of unfairness in the selection process. A spokesman for accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers said only “A host of factors are considered in who qualifies for this, and it’s a long arduous decision process. I can only say to those who are disappointed that there’s always next year.”
Although Iraq would seem to have almost no chance of victory, long term observers such as CBS’s Billy Packer are quick to point out the unpredictable, quirky nature of this time of year, which has earned it the moniker ‘March Madness.” As Packer says “Remember the year Shakespeare in Love beat Houston for the title, or the year North Viet Nam won. No one expected it, but it happened.”
For its part, Iraq is not satisfied with merely advancing this far. Long-time Iraqi coach Saddam Hussein, once a disciple of disgraced ex-US helmer Jimmy Carter, has promised “an inferno” for the US, a full-court press, and perhaps a full page ad in Variety.
“The rivers will choke with the blood of the infidels” screamed Hussein at a pep rally. Asked about these inflammatory statements, spokesmen for ABC and CBS could only say that “March is the time when dreams come true.”