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Saturday, November 08, 2003

Bollettino

Wow. An answering spirit. A man who gets it. LI is frankly amazed.

In Slate, there�s an article by one Daniel Benjamin. Benjamin analyzes a fact that we have referred to obsessively: the unsecured military dumps around Iraq. In particular, the transfer of anti-aircraft weaponry to unknown, and probably unfriendly, hands. This, we believe, might be the worst thing the Bush administration, in its unblemished record of calamitous and stupid acts, has done so far. A sin of omission indicating the omission is between the ears of the President:
�Given the growing intensity of the combat in Iraq, the downing of two helicopters and the resulting deaths of 22 soldiers in the last week comes as little surprise. The destruction of a Black Hawk today, reportedly by a rocket-propelled grenade, and a Chinook on Sunday by a shoulder-fired missile were all but statistical inevitabilities in a country with a deepening insurgence and 600,000 or more tons of largely unsecured armaments.

But the attacks should also send a shudder through anyone who flies, even if they never board anything but commercial wide-body airliners and never venture within 5,000 miles of Iraq. By removing the locks from Iraq's enormous stores of armaments, including "vast, unknown" quantities of anti-aircraft weapons, as Air Force Gen. John Handy, commander of U.S. Transportation Command, put it several months ago, the fighting in Iraq has virtually ensured that some of these arms will wind up in the hands of terrorists who will want to use them outside the current war zone.�
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There�s an absolutely hilarious defense of Bush�s record on terrorism going the rounds � that the lack of an attack in the U.S. is evidence of success. The same conservatives who spout this nonsense segue, without hesitation, into denunciations of Clinton�s slackness � a segue that calmly bypasses the almost nine year interval between the first and the second attempts on the WTC. The Bushies don�t even have that inactivity to excuse their comedy cop routine, since earlier this year, in a band reaching from Morocco to Java, the network � that loosely connected, intrastate and informal structure that supports Al Qaeda influenced operatives � was able to hit a number of targets. Discussions about the deployment of more U.S. troops or less miss, largely, the point: what are the troops supposed to be doing in Iraq? One major objective should certainly be to destroy the weaponry that Saddam�s and the previous guvs were able to lavish on the country in extended shopping expeditions that surely benefited the good workers of Lille, Nashville, Tennessee, and Kiev for a good twenty years before 1991.

Here�s what we have said in various recent posts about this. Notice, this was written by a poor man in Austin, Texas, a good 7,000 miles from the conflict, with only newspapers to supply him with information, and that information, too, in English. In other words, this isn�t rocket science. It was easy to foresee, before November 2, that a helicopter was going to go down. What was not easy to foresee would be three hits in one and a half weeks.

September 21:

Here we have a presidency that has utterly failed. One that has amassed a five hundred billion dollar deficit on� nothing. One that has gotten us enmeshed in one war, in Iraq, that not only has nothing to do with our interests, but is actually harmful to them. Meanwhile, we have incompletely dealt with a group that really has physically attacked us � al Qaeda. By cautiously never pronouncing the name, Osama bin Laden, Bush attempts to exorcize the man. What is the result? In Morocco, Bali, Jakarta and Saudi Arabia the organization, or its allies, have attacked. The pretence that they are crippled makes sense only to people who cannot see what is in front of their nose. Here�s something in front of our noses: the people who hijacked the four planes three years ago did not have chemical weapons. They didn�t have Uzis. They used credit cards, airplane tickets, and hobby shop paraphernalia to wipe out three thousand lives. And so far, nothing that has happened tells us that this can�t happen again. Meanwhile, the Democrats act as if calling the President a �miserable failure� is some kind of logomachical triumph.

October 30:

1. End the p.r. aspect of the war. In Vietnam, the army would take a hill simply to have it reported on the news that they took a hill. That soon demoralized troops, and eventually corrupted the whole military effort in that war. In this war, we are hearing all about troops building schools. Meanwhile, on the side, we are also hearing that the guerillas are supplying themselves from huge dumps of conventional weapons, including surface to air missiles, because we don�t have enough military personnel on the ground to destroy these things. This is, to put it bluntly, lunatic. If you don�t prioritize military missions for the army in a hostile situation, you shouldn�t have any responsibility for the army. Be a man, pull the school builders, cut off the enemy�s ability to acquire weapons. Period.

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