12 April 2004

we really did tell you so

Can we stop saying "clear in retrospect"? How about "finally undeniably clear to everyone, though it was really pretty easy to anticipate"? [NYT, Apr 11]
But before Fallujah two things happened -- clear in retrospect -- that helped unravel what little hope was here.

The first was hundreds of miles away. On March 22, in the Gaza Strip, Israeli forces assassinated Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas who was a hero to Palestinians. Outraged Arabs hit the streets in Baghdad and other Middle Eastern capitals. Many Americans in Iraq braced themselves for reprisals.

A few days after Yassin was killed, U.S. authorities shut down the Hawza newspaper, the mouthpiece of Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric. The paper had been accused of printing lies. But closing it only played into al-Sadr’s hand, fueling huge protests by his followers.

Then Fallujah happened. The group that took responsibility said it was avenging Yassin.

The sheik’s ghost returned to Iraq once more, on April 2, when al-Sadr announced that he was opening the Iraqi chapters of Hezbollah and Hamas, pro-Palestinian groups responsible for attacks on Israel.

11 April 2004

Curious George

Condi says that the Aug 6 PDB was unusual in that it was a response to a specific request from Bush for background on al-Qaeda.

I wonder why he made that request when he did? Was it because of the general increase in ominous terrorist chatter over the summer? Or did they have more clues than they've told us about? Without the context of all the other PDBs it's hard to tell, but we can always insinuate.

09 April 2004

Liberal media misses atrocity in Falluja

Apparently, besides the four U.S. civilians/private security guards/mercenaries killed in Falluja last week, there have been 280 Iraqis killed, 400 wounded and the whole town is under siege. Who knew?

Actually, the paper of record does mention this in an April 8 article, but with slightly different emphasis.

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Polish and Bulgarian troops battled Shi'ite militiamen in the Iraqi shrine city of Kerbala on Thursday as U.S.-led forces struggled to quell the worst violence since Saddam Hussein's fall a year ago.

The United States said it might keep combat-hardened troops in Iraq longer than planned to help tackle Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim insurgents trying to expel American-led occupiers.

This week's intense two-front fighting has killed 35 American and allied soldiers and several hundred Iraqis. It has elicited U.S. assertions of resolve, but prompted signs of nervousness among some other countries with troops in Iraq.

Speaking of casualties, and emphasis, michaelmoore.com was briefly featuring this photomosaic, titled "War President."

As of April 8, 2004, there have been 645 American soldiers killed in Iraq. Even if flag-draped coffins don't appear on TV, it's safe to say that these deaths are pretty well publicized.

In contrast, even though the Iraqi body count is now above 10,000, the most complete listing I've found has "names and/or personal details" for only 692 (like "29 deaths; family of Metaq Ali; near Talil") and full names for only 468.

I know this isn't surprising, but I like to see these things quantified.