(for egregiously bad journalistic timing in the war on terror): “For months American troops and covert operatives have combed the rugged outlands of eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan in search of Osama bin Laden and his principal deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The fruitless manhunt serves as a reminder of the Bush administration’s inability to achieve one of the main goals of its antiterror effort, the capture of Al Qaeda’s leaders.” – David Johnston and Raymond Bonner, New York Times, February 27, 2003, a couple of days before the capture of al Qaeda’s key planner.

EMAIL OF THE DAY: To that self-parody of a San Francisco lefty, Mark Morford, from a reader of this website:

Mark… you sound like a flaming bag of hippie crap gas. I’m a Republican. Never have been a Democrat, never will be. But I used to smoke, drink a wild gamut of a selection of coffees, done lots of drugs and I’ve got a sloppy dog. I used to be a good western Christian but blew it off for a higher spirituality … whoops, there go the drugs again. Yeah, sex, drugs, rock and roll. Never voted for a Bush tho’. But if W wasn’t pursuing this war I’d be voting for Hillary next year. And that’d be a ballot voted with blood … from the hole I would immediately thereafter put in my head. I’m proud to be a conservative southern white boy … but not homophobic. Heck, I’m one of the homos.

Okay, put that guy in an ideological pigeon-hole.


Another corker from the BBC, attacking U.S.-U.K. enforcement of the no-fly zones in Northern and Southern Iraq. Money sentence:

The no-fly zones – which have never been sanctioned by the United Nations – were imposed by the US, Britain and France after the 1991 Gulf War, in what was described as a humanitarian effort to protect Shia Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north.

The sneer is unmistakable. In fact, the no-fly zones were a direct result of U.N. Resolution 688, designed to protect the Kurds and Shi’a from mass slaughter at the hands of Saddam. They saved thousands of lives and have resulted in a remarkably stable and democratic Kurdish enclave in Northern Iraq. But note how the BBC has to say that they are “described as” a humanitarian effort. Is Tariq Aziz writing their copy? Or just the Vatican?

THE LEFT’S MICHAEL SAVAGE: I often get emails linking to one Michael Morford of SFGate, an online branch of the San Francisco Chronicle. I usually chuckle, but rarely link because the guy seems, well, “disturbed” is not far off it. Anyway, the latest one is worth looking at purely from an anthropological point of view. The far lefties who assume you agree with them, the really angry ones who are somehow also into good karma, the ones who simply cannot understand why any intelligent person doesn’t believe that the U.S. is obviously a tool for corporate genocide or some such atrocity – here is one small part of their id. I offer you this opener:

Wanna know what conservatives really hate? What makes everyone from harmless GOP dittoheads to ultra-right-wing nutjobs full of rage and hiss and homophobia and blind jingoism roll their eyes and throw up their hands and scamper for their Bibles for reassurance that life is still repressed and we’re still going to war and Dubya is still smackin’ ’round the envurment along with them wimmin and homosekshuls and furriners? Why, hippie crap, of course.

Take it from there, Mark. But please understand that some of us actually love hippie crap, and we’re fighting to keep people like you free enough to do their thing. Somehow, I don’t think Osama and Saddam would be so indulgent.


The capture of KSM is big news. In fact, it’s surely the biggest news in the war on terror in months. The nabbing followed previous arrests and interrogations, all of which have clearly helped stymie and disorient al Qaeda. In terms of the broader debate about the war, one conclusion is obvious. It’s time to retire the frayed notion that somehow we cannot go to war against Saddam and al Qaeda at the same time. In fact, it would be hard to think of a more perfect refutation. Could the administration be more preoccupied with Iraq than it is today? It’s a little hopeful to think that this phony argument against waging war on more than one front will now be retired. But it is useful to remember that, as an argument, it was never based on any actual assessment of how the government works. It was an argument entirely designed to make the Democrats look tough on terror while they were counseling appeasement of Saddam. It was a pretty obvious ploy at the time. Now it’s transparent. I’m glad we’ve finally cleared it up.

THE TURKS: One day, someone will write a real account of what has actually been going on in Turkey’s ruling elite and parliament these past few weeks. You have a brand new government, run by a party that has never been in power before in the country’s history. You have an effective leader, Tayyip Erdogan, who, because he doesn’t have a parliamentary seat, isn’t the actual prime minister (but may be very soon). You have the possibility that some pro-American deputies might have voted against the U.S. troops purely to discredit the new Islamic-party government, in the hopes of bringing the government down, and then bringing the troops in under new auspices. Then you have the economic legacy of the last Gulf war – and the latest shenanigans from Baghdad – having an impact on public opinion. Who knows what’s next? But if the government is planning on a second vote, as they seem to be, they’d be suicidal if they thought they didn’t have it in the bag. Two lost parliamentary votes could precipitate a collapse in the government. So my fearless prediction is that US troops could be in Turkey by the end of this week, or there will be a government crisis in that country. I have mixed feelings about this – not least because one key test of the Bush administration’s plans for a post-Saddam Iraq will be how the semi-democratic Kurdish enclave in the north of Iraq survives and prospers. And somehow I think the Turks will be a little nervous about that. Cooperation with Washington now means greater leverage over the Kurds later. Uh-oh.


How else to describe this puff piece about a Welsh woman who supports suicide bombings? I’ve now read the piece several times to see if there is any irony involved. There isn’t. The headline? “Welsh pensioner turns freedom fighter: Ex-bank manager defends Palestinian suicide bombers.” “Freedom-fighter”? Someone who supports people who deliberately kill innocent civilians? The hatred of Israel and of Israelis is now reaching pathological proportions on the British left. If the hysteria continues, it will be at brownshirt levels soon.

SO IN LOVE: A mildly hilarious take on a high-level British-American love affair.

FROM PROTEST TO …: I cannot be the only one disturbed by reports that the anti-war movement intends not merely to protest the war before it happens, but to actually attempt to undermine it when it starts. If they go ahead and try to impede those people in the military doing their jobs, if they launch a “stop-the-war” movement after it has begun and American and British lives are at stake, it strikes me that they will massively over-play their hand. It took a long time in the Vietnam War for people to start campaigning against an existing war; and longer still for some to withhold support from the troops facing battle. If the anti-war brigades decide to cross that line instantly, then the backlash could be enormous. And deservedly so.


Both liberal commentators rushed to the defense of Sami Al-Arian, the University of South Florida’s fifth columnist for terror. Both are forced now to concede they were had. But how reluctantly! Howie Kurtz has the goods (third item). Kristof is just a soft-touch for terrorists, and always finds a reason to avoid confronting them. Boehlert is worse. He actually attacked the Tampa Tribune for daring to raise questions about Al-Arian. In fact, Boehlert wrote that the Tribune’s reporter, Michael Fechter, who had followed the story for years, and his editors, had “disgraced themselves – and ruined an innocent professor’s life.” Salon had also run knee-jerk defenses of al-Arian, and even included Boehlert’s inaccurate defense of al-Arian in its collection of essays on 9/11. Consistent at least. And wrong.

MORE TIMES WOBBLING: Is there any sane person on the planet who thinks that Saddam’s partial dismantling of a declared missile system is actually a genuine change of heart by the Baghdad regime? Only the Gail Collins could pull that one off.


“Love must be regarded as the final flower and fruit of justice. When it is substituted for justice it degenerates into sentimentality and may become the accomplice of tyranny. Looking at the tragic contemporary scene within this frame of reference, we feel that American Christianity is all too prone to disavow its responsibilities for the preservation of our civilization against the perils of totalitarian aggression. We are well aware of the sins of all the nations, including our own, which have contributed to the chaos of our era. We know to what degree totalitarianism represents false answers to our own unsolved problems – political, economic, spiritual. Yet we believe the task of defending the rich inheritance of our civilization to be an imperative one, however much we might desire that our social system were more worthy of defense. We believe that the possibility of correcting its faults and extending its gains may be annulled for centuries if this external peril is not resolutely faced.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, defending another just and moral war, February 10, 1941.

ONE LEFTY GETS IT: Check out this story about veteran left-winger, Welsh parliamentarian, Ann Clwyd, who is now fully in favor of deposing Saddam. Money quote:

Ms Clwyd, MP for Cynon Valley, told of an under-nourished university teacher who had given birth in prison and begged guards for milk to feed her child. The guards refused and the baby died. “For three days she held that baby in her arms and would not give the body up. After three days due to the 60-degree heat, the body of course started to smell, and [the woman] was taken away and killed.” She also told of a 15-year-old boy tortured and crucified, and pinned against the prison window. When he begged for water a prisoner who came to his aid was beaten up. She found many refugees had been ethnically cleansed for being Kurds. “That’s the reality of Saddam’s Iraq,” she said. “When I hear people calling for more time, I say, who is going to speak up for those victims? Who is to help the victims of Saddam’s regime unless we do it?”

Exactly. Who? In the end, it will be a Republican president, against the full force of the allegedly progressive movement.