War: August 2003 Archives

I'm very proud that searching Google for "Thomas Friedman idiot" brings up one of my posts near the top.

Courtesy of Atrios, I see that he is still an idiot. Here are excerpts from two of his columns, 11 days apart:

August 20, 2003, NYT
No Time to Lose in Iraq

"Everyone has advice now for the U.S.: bring in U.N. peacekeepers, bring in the French. They're all wrong. There are only two things we need: more Americans out back and more Iraqis out front."

August 31, 2003, NYT
Policy Lobotomy Needed

"Our Iraq strategy needs an emergency policy lobotomy. President Bush needs to shift to a more U.N.-friendly approach, with more emphasis on the Iraqi Army (the only force that can effectively protect religious sites in Iraq and separate the parties), and with more input from Secretary of State Colin Powell and less from the "we know everything and everyone else is stupid" civilian team running the Pentagon.

There is no question that we would benefit from a new U.N. mandate that puts U.S. forces in Iraq under a stronger U.N. umbrella."

I recommend sending an email to letters@nytimes.com and asking them about this.

I don't understand this administration. They have plenty of money to spend on speechwriters and marketers, and we still get stuff like this, from Bush's speech to the American Legion on Tuesday:

He did not repeat his administration's prewar assertions that Mr. Hussein had ties to Al Qaeda, but made a general argument about the threat from those who hate, among others, "Christians and Jews and every Muslim who does not share their narrow and violent vision."

India just had two bombs go off in Bombay that killed 51 people and injured over 150. They are the worlds largest democracy, and allegedly an ally. The odds are pretty good that most of those people were not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim, but I guess our glorious leader can't wrap is head around yet another religion, particularly one that's not one of the big three monotheistic ones. It also is "off message" to talk about any culpability from Pakistan, our partner in the War on Terror. Pakistan is also believed to have supplied nuclear technology to Iran and North Korea. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

Mr. Flight Suit also used the speech as an excuse to taunt Al Quaeda and other terrorists for not having hit U.S. soil directly lately:

He made the case that failing to take the fight to terrorists wherever they are would expose the United States to attacks at home. "Our military is confronting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places so our people will not have to confront terrorist violence in New York or St. Louis or Los Angeles," he said.

So we're safer because we're battling people overseas, including the mysterious "elsewhere"? I doubt it.

I can't recommend The current situation -- my take on it from silipups highly enough. It is a brilliant summary of the current situation.


Rick Hooper died as he lived — trying to bring peace in the Middle East. (Photo by Robert Zash)

I have already written about the death of Sergio Vieira de Mello in the bombing of U.N. headquarters in Iraq. From the NY Blade comes the story of the death of Rick Hooper, an openly gay U.N. employee who was fluent in Arabic and had worked on missions in the Gaza Strip and Iraq.

Rick Hooper, a New Yorker who worked on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations, died on Tuesday, August 19, in the explosion of the U.N.’s headquarters in Baghdad.

Hooper, 40, lived in Spanish Harlem, where he had moved three years ago with his then-lover, photographer Robert Zash. The two were together for nearly five years before breaking up last December.


Once he began working for the U.N., he was quickly promoted as chief of staff to the undersecretary general for political affairs. Hooper, who spoke and wrote Arabic fluently (in addition to a working knowledge of French, German, Norwegian and Czech), became a confidant of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, whom he advised on Mideast issues and for whom he wrote several speeches on the issue.

He was in Baghdad to replace temporarily the assistant to Annan’s envoy to Iraq, Vieira de Mello. Hooper had planned on being there for two weeks before heading to Palestine for a long-delayed vacation.


He attended the University of California at Santa Cruz and graduated from Stevenson College (part of California’s public university system) in 1985. He spent a semester at Birzeit University on the West Bank, where he learned Arabic, and Nimes, France.

He received a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Damascus. He also studied at the Center for American Studies Abroad at the American University in Cairo. He received a master’s degree in international diplomacy from Georgetown University. During his last semester at Georgetown he also worked in New York for the Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights on Palestinian issues.

He immediately started working for the U.N. in the Gaza Strip. “He was such an incredible supporter of peace,” Zash said. “In the Gaza Strip during Desert Storm, he refused to wear a gas mask. During curfews, he would drive around in a U.N. vehicle so people knew there was a U.N. presence.”

Go right now and read Anees's post titled For newcomers to this blog. I agree 100% with what he has to say on the issue, and I find it horrifying to see that people think he might support suicide bombers just because he is Palestinian. Frankly, the only violent talk I'm seeing out of people in the blogopshere is coming from the anti-Palestinan/pro-occupation people. Witness this lovely excerpt, courtesy of Letter from Gotham, in which an allegedly college-education person says about Anees:

I posted something a couple of days ago in which I said I was very disappointed to see so little coverge of the U.S. killing journalists like Mazen Dana in the blogosphere. Yesterday, the Boston Globe had a pretty fierce editorial, A cameraman killed, which I'll excerpt (emphasis mine):

WITH AMERICAN soldiers being killed almost daily in Iraq, nervousness among the occupying forces is understandable. But there is no excuse for US troops gunning down a TV cameraman doing his job, as happened to a prize-winning Reuters newsman on Sunday.

Despite the fact that Mazen Dana, 43, a father of four, had received permission from a US military official to film on the site, where other newsmen were also working, soldiers on two approaching tanks thought he might be an Iraqi guerrilla and his camera a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, according to reports. They shot first and attempted resuscitation later, unsuccessfully.

Eighteen journalists have died in Iraq from hostile fire and accidents. Five have been killed by the US military.


It is only natural that such organizations -- and newspaper editorials -- react with outrage when colleagues are killed on the job. But these killings raise a broader question of whether the coalition rules of engagement are too aggressive with all civilians. Reports of excessive force against Iraqis mount: US soldiers even killed two Iraqi policemen they mistook for criminals recently. Such actions inflame local passions, making it all the harder for occupying forces to keep the peace.

There is also a Salon article -- worth watching a free ad to read -- on how some journalists feel they are being targeted deliberately.

"From the eyewitness accounts, it appears that Dana was fired on without warning," wrote the Committee to Protect Journalists in an open letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. "He was filming in an area where no hostilities were taking place, raising questions about whether U.S. troops acted recklessly in targeting him."

My cable modem finally came back at 3pm yesterday, so I've been working frantically to try to catch up with missed work -- I work from home.

One thing I noticed while looking around some weblogs: I was disturbed that so few people seemed to be talking about the death of Mazen Dana, the Reuters cameraman, at the hands of U.S. soldiers. It barely showed up on the main blogs I read. Here is a link to the Committee to Protect Journalists, who are continuing to cover this, plus the lousy "investigation" our government made of the attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad -- which housed journalists covering the war. Two cameramen were killed when we shelled the hotel.

The other thing I wanted to bring up was how saddened I am by the bombing in Baghdad of the U.N. headquarters. Our country went in and toppled a regime without adequate planning, and is trying to have an occupation "on the cheap." We've plunged Iraq into chaos and anarchy, with no end in sight. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's special representative in Iraq, was killed in the bombing. He was a man with a great career, having served as the head of the U.N.'s operations in East Timor. He guided that country from being a rebellious Indonesian province to an independent country with democratic elections. His expertise would have been invaluable during the creation of what the Bush regime allegedly wants to happen in Iraq -- a democracy.

The lovely and talented Anees is back -- with a bang -- from his blog break:

silipups: Suckers!

I.F. Stone once said the Washinton Post was exciting to read "because you never know on what page you would find a page-one story."

Why was this in the Business Section of the New York Times yesterday?

The Bechtel Group, one of the world's biggest engineering and construction companies, has dropped out of the running for a contract to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry, as other competitors have begun to conclude that the bidding process favors the one company already working in Iraq, Halliburton.

After the United States Army Corps of Engineers quietly selected Halliburton in the spring to perform early repairs of the Iraqi oil business in the aftermath of the war, other companies and members of Congress protested that the work should have been awarded through competitive bidding.


Preliminary plans for a new contract, which industry executives had thought might total $1 billion, were announced late in June by the Corps of Engineers. The bidding was meant, in part, to introduce competition and a sense of fairness into the lucrative Iraqi reconstruction market, an executive with a major engineering concern said. Like many industry executives, he would speak only on condition of anonymity because his company does not want to jeopardize its chances for future government contracts.

But in the last month, the corps, which is overseeing the reconstruction efforts, has specified a timetable for the work that effectively means that the value of any contract companies other than Halliburton could win would be worth only about $176 million, according to Corps of Engineers documents and executives in the engineering and construction business.

Earlier this week, Bechtel cited the timetable as its reason for dropping out of the bidding. The company now plans to deal directly with the Iraqi oil ministry for future reconstruction work, a spokesman, Howard N. Menaker, said.


Working in Iraq has helped turn around Halliburton's financial performance, its second-quarter results showed. The company made a profit of $26 million, in contrast to a loss of $498 million in the period a year earlier. The company stated that 9 percent, or $324 million, of its second-quarter revenue of $3.6 billion came from its work in Iraq.

This page is an archive of entries in the War category from August 2003.

previous archive: War: July 2003

next archiveWar: September 2003



3 latest

3 random