April 07, 2003


WEATHERING THE STORM: Late last week I finally finished Kenneth Pollack's book "The Threatening Storm," and in case you haven't gathered it from my constant mentions over the last few months, the book is indispensable reading for anyone wishing to learn the military and political history of the US-Iraq conflict. Pollack, a nominal liberal who worked for the CIA and NSA in the Clinton Administration, very persuasively (and thankfully, non-ideologically) lays out the case for why regime change was the only viable option for dealing with the Iraq threat. And the biggest revelation of the book is one that puts the lie to all this "warmonger Bush" talk: for years in the Clinton Administration, there were multiple voices who believed that the best option for Iraq was taking out Saddam, yet didn't dare implement the plan because the American people wouldn't go along with it. One of the leading proponents of regime change? You guessed it, Al Gore. So if Florida had gone differently, there's a good chance we'd be in the same situation that we're in now with a post-9/11 President Gore.
Once again, if you're hoping to get a greater understanding of what's going on Iraq right now than you can get from CNN, Fox News, and the BBC put together, then I can't overstate enough how informative and authoritative a book "The Threatening Storm" is.

RIP, MIKE AND DAVID: While neither was specifically killed in combat, two great journalists (Michael Kelly and David Bloom) died over the weekend in Iraq; it still hasn't sunk in yet that either of them is actually gone. Bravely covering a dangerous and unpredictable war, the two each chose to travel halfway around the world to a war-torn desert nation when they could've just as easily remained in the comfort of a New York, DC, or Boston news room. The reporting of both men, and the men themselves, will be missed by all who knew them.
Here's my favorite column of Kelly's (one from last year making fun of "full disclosure" journalists), and here's his last, filed from Iraq on Thursday.

MOST UN-NEW YORK TIMES NEW YORK TIMES STORY OF THE YEAR: The Times ran a piece Sunday on how ex-hippie college professors are finding themselves much more radical than even their generation-younger students, some of whom are apathetic, but many more of whom actively support the war in Iraq. Brandeis, apparently, wasn't the only school that saw the absurd exercise of professors walking out of class rather than teach, while their students actually showed up wanting to learn. This shows, once and for all, that the collegiate anti-war movement has from the start been more about '60s nostalgia than any actual principle or conviction.
It's the latest indication, on the political level, of the ultimate failure of the '60s revolution: the closest thing the "tenured radicals" have had to the '60s since the real thing has turned out to be a big dud: at this point 75% of the country supports the war, we know it's not going to drag on for 15 years like Vietnam (closer to 15 days), and none of the anticipated disasters (nuclear annihilation, use of chemical weapons, attacks on Israel, retalitatory terrorist attacks in the US) have come to pass. Somehow, it actually appears that at Brandeis at least, the student body is further from left-wing unanimity in wartime than they were in peacetime. Because many, many young people all over the country, many of whom would proudly affix the word "liberal" to their names, have looked at the facts and decided that, you know, maybe getting rid of an evil, murderous tyrant like Saddam Hussein, is the right, liberal, and progressive thing to do after all.

DA ALI H SHOW: CANCELED: NBC News is reporting that British military officers have successfully killed Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, better known by the nickname "Chemical Ali." The Chemical Brother was best known as the mastermind behind Iraq's poison-gas attack on Kurds in Northern Iraq in 1988. On top of that, "Chemical Ali" probably had the best nickname of any foreign evildoer since the '90s-era Serbian warlord Zeljko "Arkan" Raznatovic. But the greatest of all time (albeit fictional) was "Concentration Camp Erhardt," from Ernst Lubitsch's 1944 "To Be Or Not to Be."

Posted by Stephen Silver at April 7, 2003 03:30 AM
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