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The Saudis Respond


From a reader:


I enjoyed your “What’s Wrong with the Arab World?”

I forwarded it to the Saudi embassy in Washington and received this simply response: “Is Goldberg really that racist?”

I have e-mailed the Saudi embassy several times since September 11, 2001, and have asked fair but tough questions. Each time I have received a smart-ass and unsigned response (which I find odd for an unfit that is supposed to be practicing diplomacy). Perhaps you and some others at NR could have some fun by asking the Saudi embassy fair but sensitive questions (e.g., Why isn’t the royal family upset over Syria’s occupation of Lebanon?). I think your readers would find a column that includes the responses quite interesting.



Halliburton withdraws from the bidding process (they still might bid for subcontract work). My guess is that the anti-war crowd is upset by this news. It takes away a talking point they never really cared about in the first place. I mean who cares if Halliburton works on reconstruction? Aside from symbolism, there’s absolutely nothing disturbing or unpleasent about the idea. The idea that we are going to war to generate work for Halliburton is vestigial Marxist nonsense.


Military Debate


Greg Easterbrook has a good piece on the debate within the military over the size and structure of our forces.

Web Briefing: December 21, 2014



The Middle East Studies Association remains the very picture of everything that has gone wrong in the American academy. (Although I don’t want to diminish the madness of my own discipline, anthropology, which produced Nicholas De Genova, of “million Mogadishu’s fame.”) Ever since 9/11, I’ve been offering criticism’s of MESA. Those criticisms are inspired by the vitally important work of Martin Kramer, whose book, Ivory Towers On Sand, broke open the scandal of Middle East Studies. Now, to her credit, Lisa Anderson, the current president of MESA, has issued an important piece of self-criticism that implicitly acknowledges the truth of many of Kramer’s criticisms. You can find that letter, and more about this turn of events, at Martin Kramer’s weblog, Sandstorm.

By the way, it’s notable that Columbia University is at the center of so many of our current controversies. Columbia is the home of the founder of “post-colonial studies,” Edward Said, and Columbia unquestionably has one of the most one sided programs of Middle East Studies in the nation. Also, the De Genova affair was no fluke. Some years ago, Columbia University decided to turn its department of Anthropology into the most cutting edge outpost of anthropological postmodernism in the country. Clearly, it succeeded.


Final Follow-Up On Arnot Post


For the benefit of those of you who have been with us for a few hours now and are interested: From “Former Tank Officer and ex-reporter” Guy:

Funny, beating up on Bob Arnot, for explaining to the audience what
anyone can see from a map.

1. Centcom announced the crossing of the Tigris, and specified the
location as north of Al Kut.

2. All the analysts describe the north/east bank of the Tigris as the
“traditional” invasion route. Do you think the Iraqis might also know

3. The idea of conducting a division movement to contact down one
highway is not realistic.

4. Even BG Brooks had to stifle a chuckle when he was asked about the
direction the 1st MEF was moving. Sure, they COULD go south, but since
Baghdad is the objective, why would they?

5. I don’t recall anyone getting their knickers twisted when CNN was
blasting out that the 3-7th Cav (the so called “wall of steel”) was
leading the advance of the 3d ID along the south bank of the Euphrates.
Could it be because common sense tells us a primary mission of the
division cavalry squadron is to conduct an advance guard?

And Now


A boat coming from Cuba has been hijacked.

Two Truths


Today’s Washington Post has an analysis of the military situation by Vernon Loeb which I think is very fair (and balanced). Overall, the war is going remarkably well. The Pentagon’s plan has achieved spectacular advances, with relatively few casualties, and has extracted a tremendous price from the enemy for such harassment as they’ve been able to level. At the same time, more troops on the ground earlier on would have been a real help, given the early pressure on our supply lines. That seems right to me. This plan is a great overall success, for which the Pentagon and Secretary Rumsfeld (not to mention our spectacular soldiers) deserve high praise. But a relatively minor and correctable bump at the start teaches a lesson about the ongoing need for boots on the ground, even in a high tech world. Too bad that in this polarized environment, it’s been so hard for people to simultaneously acknowledge these dual truths.

Speaking of “Black Hawk Down”


It seems to me the coverage of these reports that the Baathists have been studying the incident to figure out how to fight US forces has been way off-kilter. Telling your troops to emulate an event which required lobbing troops at American soldiers like they were tennis balls at the Williams sisters would not inspire confidence. Also, telling them “it helps if you get really, really high before you attack the Americans” would not be a morale-booster either. Besides, while they were prepared American forces still didn’t go into Mogadishu expecting that ambush. Imagine how much more lopsided it might have been if the Americans knew it was coming — like they do in Iraq.

Trouble With Numbers


In my syndicated column on Nicholas De Genova, the Columbia University yutz, my math is off by about 900 million. A million Mogadishus would result in about a billion dead Third Worlders since more than 1,000 Somalis died in the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Also, in Monday’s G-File, I gave the highest — but still somewhat credible — estimate of deaths in Dresden. Estimates range from over 30,000 up to 135,000. While both errors are annoying and symbolic beatings will be issued to the undeserving, neither mistake detracts significantly from my larger point(s).

48 Hours


Equal-Op Terrorism: The Women of Al Qaeda


I don’t see this on the AP wire. Maybe it is a belated April Fool’s joke.

Raffarin Rattled


Although Chirac is, as Reuters notes, “silent”, a panicking French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin is now saying
that “just because [France is] against this war doesn’t mean we want dictatorship to defeat democracy”.
Well, if that’s the case Raffarin better try explaining this fact to the third of the French who want Saddam to
win this war. He might also like to travel to Zimbabwe to explain to the people of that country just how, exactly,
Chirac’s appeasement of Mugabe can be reconciled with his much-vaunted attachment to democracy.

Raffarin is, by all accounts, a decent man. He does himself no credit by acting as a stooge for Chirac, liar and
demagogue. He should resign.

More On Giving The Enemy Our Roadmap


“USAF Intel Guy” here again…

While this is the same type of thing that got Geraldo run out on a rail since we generally do not want the enemy to know where we are, there are times when such statements can be tactically advantageous.

Say there are reporters with 1MEF saying “We are rolling up Highway X, within striking distance of Baghdad” and you have reporters with 3ID saying “We just rolled through Karbala, and are X miles from Baghdad”.

First, this will be a decisive signal to the rest of the regimes forces that we are rolling through the Republican Guards like butter. Such a signal may ultimately cause the remaining forces to capitulate.

Second, such statements can help fix the enemy in place if they do indeed intend to fight. If we can make so much noise about our strong advance from the south, it could very well cause the regime to focus entirely on that…and then perhaps not notice another assault from another direction where defenses are not so strong. This is *entirely* hypothetical since I have no insight into CENTCOM’s planning..but it worked in the first Gulf War. Lots of noise in Kuwait, and here comes the ‘Left Hook’

While the military has always had a tendency to control all operational information very tightly, it is finding that release of some can have very strong impact in the realm of ‘Information Operations” and Psychological Operations.

Information *can* be a weapon….

Correction (Courtesy of “Egypt Guy” and Others)


Ali was Mohammed’s cousin and also son-in-law
(married to Mohammed’s daughter Fatima).

Ny Post On Lynch Rescue


More re the tipoff from the New York Post (you’d think I would check the Post before I turned on the TV….I am a NEW YORKER…John Derbyshire will be ashamed to be associated with me):

In a twist right out of a Hollywood movie, U.S. intelligence may have pinpointed her exact whereabouts thanks to an Iraqi citizen – who passed a note, apparently written in English by a woman, to a Marine in the area yesterday, NBC reported.

“She’s still alive. She’s in room [deleted],” the note said, according to the network.

An NBC reporter also said he was approached the same day by an Iraqi who told him in English: “There’s a woman in the Saddam Hospital who’s an American soldier. Please make sure the people in charge know.”

Where Was Fox?


I wish someone at the CENTCOM briefing asked about claims that the checkpoint casualties were set-up by the regime.

Pentagon Color


Loose Lips


Another reader on the route-airing:

With respect to your reader, that was not a fair point. It is not up to individual journalists to make that call, obvious or not. It doesn’t matter whether there is one road or twenty–they should shut up about locations!

A Full Double-Decker Bus in Baghdad


The seemingly normal volume of traffic in Baghdad, throughout this campaign, seems surreal. Do people trust us that much? Are these all regime-instigated drive-bys in front of international news cameras? People whose lives just must go on despite the war–bearing in mind their lives have always been in danger under Saddam Hussein.

The Tipoff


MSNBC just reported a local handed a Coalition troop a note that indicated an American soldier was being held in the local hospital.
Clarification: This refers to the Lynch rescue.


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