Archive for February, 2006

Bad Craziness!

A right-wing, American evangelical minister. Busted. In Uganda. In a hotel room full of guns and Congolese citizens. An excellent blog with the details.

Send lawyers, guns and money – the shit has hit the fan. Be interesting to see what develops.

Fake Police Watch

Over at Dave’s, guess what do we find? Charles Clarke in a copper’s hat. I didn’t think it would spread quite that quickly.

DP World: My Two Cents

So far I haven’t really engaged with the row about Dubai Ports World buying P&O. Frankly, I don’t particularly care about grand icons of British industry changing hands – if you don’t think they should be nationalised, it follows that you should welcome that the stock market decides on the allocation of capital between publicly held companies. I don’t think P&O should be nationalised, so I really don’t care who owns it so long as they are competent (which isn’t up to me to decide as I don’t own P&O stock).

I also don’t think the security of US ports will change very much as a result. The US Customs only search 5 per cent of the containers, after all. But, still…it’s fucking Dubai, after all, city of all the scams in the Middle East, next door to the Sharjah Airport Free Zone. And, as Larry Johnson points out, one of DP World’s businesses is running the Dubai Free Zone, which is the location of a non-trivial number of firms associated with our, ahem, friend.

However, it’s got jack shit to do with inspecting containers or managing the logistics of a big container terminal. It’s also true that most of the really sick stuff goes in the other emirates, especially Sharjah, which Dubaians consider a hidebound ultraconservative dump run by Islamic puritans (ironically). It has everything to do with company law, corruption and impunity, which aren’t DPW’s business but that of the government. If there is a case to block the sale of P&O ports to DPW, it’s entirely as a bargaining chip to force changes at home.

The Dreaded 36th!

Whilst we’re in Iraq mode (is this blog ever in anything else? How will it ever return to civil life? Will it end up begging for hits by the roadside with a sign – Iraq Veteran, Please Give Generously Of Your Attention?), yet another of those reports on how many Iraqi army units can fight with US support is out. It’s the same one that says the terrorists have failed to create and spread sectarian conflict, so salt is required.

Apparently there are more than ever who are at level 2, whatever that means, but still only one that can run its own show. Curiously, a few days ago, I saw an NYT report from a dog-and-pony show of the all-new Iraqi Special Forces and their mission to take the fight to the terrorists, helicopters against the sunset, fade. One thing, though – it turns out that the Special Forces used to be known as the 36th Battalion of the Ministry of the Interior, aka the Police Commandos, aka the Badr Corps religious torture boys.

It will surprise none that the one battalion is still them. It will also surprise no-one that members of this force are turning up dead all over Baghdad.

Update.. In comments, Dsquared asks for more information. A battalion is usually around 700 strong, organised in a headquarters company and three or four rifle companies, with its own support weapons (machine guns, mortars and such), transport, and quartermasters but without more integral comms, logistics or heavy equipment. To the point, which is whether the Iraqi-SF-36th-Whatever would be enough force to carry out a coup, I’d say that this really depends on what happens afterwards. With the rest of the Iraqi police/army/National Guard being either sympathetic or ineffective, and the government concentrated inside the Green Zone, there’s obviously a chance. So long as the Americans don’t intervene, or don’t realise what’s happening until too late.

This is where those tanks referred to below come in. If they were on the side of the original government or at least opposed to the coup they could crush it. If they were on the side of the coupsters, they would pretty much guarantee success (and force the Americans to treat with the coup.) Which reminds me..enter left, tanks (German link). Here they come.

Iraq: T72 Watch

Well, this is going to be a serious post about serious military issues, but first, some light relief. Danielle “Arik Sharon in Stockings” Pletka editorialises against the CIA’s liberal agenda. Apparently they hate freedom so much they issued “inaccurate warnings of civil war in Iraq”. This appeared the day before whoever-it-was blew up the mosque.

I suppose she might have meant warnings that were inaccurate in the sense that they didn’t suggest that Ali al-Sistani would be turning into the most bellicose Shia leader, that Moqtada al-Sadr would have given his army a nationwide mission to “protect mosques throughout Iraq” (yeah, right – like that’s not an excuse to deploy outside “Sumer”), that the Sunnis would have walked out of the government formation process and started killing “police commandos” in droves. But I doubt it. In other schadenfreude-related news today, a Pentagon report reassures us that “Terrorist attacks have failed ot create and spread sectarian conflict.” Well, that’s all right, then…until you look at the Reuters Alertnet Iraq wire. Seriously, I don’t know why Reuters don’t just rename it Reuters DeathWatch.

25 Feb 2006 12:59:01 GMT
Iraqi minister ready to put tanks on streets to impose order
BAGHDAD, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Iraq will not hesitate to dispatch tanks to the streets to end violence and impose security, the country’s defence minister said on Saturday. “We are ready to fill …

25 Feb 2006 12:35:23 GMT
Bombs, clashes as Iraq govt warns of “civil war”
(Adds Dulaimi, police killed, Sunni bloc, details, edits) By Michael Georgy and Lin Noueihed BAGHDAD, Feb 25 (Reuters) – A car bomb in a Shi’ite holy city and bloody battles around Sunni mosques …

25 Feb 2006 12:33:33 GMT
FACTBOX-Developments in Iraq, Feb 25
Feb 25 (Reuters) – The following are security incidents and political developments in Iraq reported Saturday Feb. 25 as of 1145 GMT. U.S. and Iraqi forces are battling a largely Sunni Arab …

Several killed in Baghdad funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 11:35:39 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Clarifies death toll, adds details) DUBAI, Feb 25 (Reuters) – At least three members of Iraq’s security forces were killed on Saturday in an attack on the funeral procession of an Al Arabiya … Full Article…

Car bomb kills eight in market in Iraq’s Kerbala
25 Feb 2006 10:36:07 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Adds Kerbala police chief comment) KERBALA, Iraq, Feb 25 (Reuters) – A car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Iraq’s southern Shi’ite Muslim city of Kerbala on Saturday, killing at least eight … Full Article…

Several killed in Baghdad funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 10:19:58 GMT
Source: Reuters

Several security men killed at Iraq funeral attack
25 Feb 2006 09:50:56 GMT
Source: Reuters

EXPLOSION AT THE FUNERAL PROCESSION OF IRAQI JOURNALIST IN BAGHD
25 Feb 2006 09:30:04 GMT
Source: Reuters

Car bomb kills eight in market in Iraq’s Kerbala
25 Feb 2006 09:29:17 GMT
Source: Reuters

Gunmen attack house of Sunni cleric in Iraq
25 Feb 2006 08:51:49 GMT..

It’s just a pity it doesn’t rattle off a machine with a satisfying clattter, really – when will someone devise a direct RSS printer? Anyway, let’s get to the point.

Those tanks the Iraqi minister of defence is threatening to bring onto the streets. The only armour he has is the brigade’s worth of T-72s provided by Hungary, which we’ve mentioned before as a very serious factor in a coup scenario. (There are also, I think, a few reconditioned T-54/55s.) Where these tanks are, and who controls them, is about to become a burning issue, because they will be in a position to force everyone else’s hand. It’s also especially interesting that the biggest owner of tanks in Iraq, the US Army, doesn’t seem to be interested.

Have the Americans intimated to the Iraqi government that their forces are not available for crowd-crushing duty? And is anyone else horribly reminded of the 1953 East Berlin rising? That time, the Russians were trying to keep out of it until the SED realised that their own forces could not be relied on and begged the Red Army to do their dirty work, which they did with their usual gusto. In 1989, Mikhail Gorbachev decided to warn Egon Krenz that no Soviet troops would be available for internal repression, effectively pulling the plug.

If the Defence Minister decides to use his own tanks, and they follow him, this will be as good as a SCIRI coup. If they don’t, or he doesn’t, it’s going to be a question of whether we support the SCIRI in suppressing (and here’s the rub) both Sadrists and the New-Old Iraqi Army in the face of Sistani, or whether we cave and let the Shia/Shia battles begin.

Update, the tanks are now on the streets – there’s a picture of one. Someone called General Abdul-Aziz Mohamed apparently says his men will arrest all armed civilians irrespective of party or religion. Rather him than me.

FT Mag on Blogs

Not a bad article, except for…

1) straw-man argument – blogs are doomed to failure because
they can never replace big media! Who says we want to replace the Financial
Times? The argument is rubbish because the premise doesn’t hold.

2) bizarre logic – we should be even more suspicious “because no-one is even
pretending to get rich”, apparently. So being financially disinterested
makes you LESS credible? Wot?

3) false generalisation – apparently blogs do no reporting. Solution: read
some different blogs. I suspect he read Instapundit and Kos, and is now an
expert. Oh, and we all work for Gawker.

4) unrepresentative sample – yes, Ana Marie “Wonkette” Cox is pretty and she’s a yank, that doesn’t make her The Spokeswoman For Blog.
In fact, apart from the wildly overrated Instapundit, the only blogs he
appears to have read are the Gawker Media ones. Not only do none of these
really do reporting, and all of them are run by pros, they are also
commercial enterprises. Is it any coincidence that this covers all the bases
of his critique?

5) factual inaccuracy – contrary to his final thundering paragraph,
anthologies of blog have indeed been published in dead-tree form *right here
in London, and are available in bookshops within yards of FT headquarters!*
Apparently “the Gawker spirit” (see 4 above) is “wearing a little thin in
light of a seemingly endless bloody insurgency in Iraq..blah…Hurricane
Katrina…blah..corruption”. It may be, I dunno because I think Gawker’s
stuff is shit and don’t read it. But blogs have repeatedly broken news
stories on Iraq (that includes me, btw), have even sent their own reporter
to Iraq (Chris Alliton of Back to Iraq, who went to Kurdistan in 2003 funded
by reader contributions – why didn’t he interview him?), both reported live
on scene from Katrina and organised volunteer aid for refugees (I think I
missed the FT helping), and have led the news agenda on Capitol Hill
corruption (Josh Michua Marshall’s Talking Points Memo is the place to go,
and it employs no less that two full-time reporters! But we don’t do
reporting do we?)

6) Oh yes, and Marx was a cracking writer, but Instapundit obviously hasn’t
read him

7) Cluelessness – OF COURSE the best way to report on a decentralised
Internet medium is to fly at once to Washington DC and talk to the only
blogger anyone at the FT can find in Who’s Who! After all, if I just read
some blogs and asked questions, I wouldn’t be able to milk my expense
account or have the yanks stroke my ego – and life would no longer be worth
living.

If I was responsible for this heap of facile crapola I’d throw in the towel and go into public relations.

Fighting the Brainrot

Nonsense never dies. On the Internet that’s doubly true as – far from being more ephemeral as so many think – it doesn’t sink to the bottom and die, but hangs around in search engines and obscure blogs, waiting to be dredged up. You may remember John Loftus, who claims to know more intelligence secrets than any man alive but not that Abu Hamza (one hand) and Omar Bakri Mohammed (two hands) aren’t the same man.

Well, he dropped off my radar screen after that. But I see he’s back, touting tapes supposedly suggesting that Saddam really like totally did have so many WMDs (the Armchair Generalist reports). And what a bunch he’s with, too. Astonishingly, the best and most sceptical report is in, dear God, National Review Online, home of Jonah Goldberg and Co.

It seems his source is convinced that God told him where the weapons were, as well as the unconscious mind giving him a tip-off too.

Tierney’s methods of ascertaining this location were rather unconventional. “I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not, and then know if I needed to pursue it,” he said. His assessments through prayer were then confirmed to him by a friend’s clairvoyant dream, where he was able to find the location on a map. “Everything she said lined up. This place meets the criteria,” Tierney said of the power generator plant near the Tigris River that he believes is actually a cover for a secret uranium facility.

Well, presumably no-one’s found any uranium there – they would hardly have shut up about it – so I wonder how his faith is getting on. Read the whole thing.

Also at the “intelligence summit” – funded, NRO tells us, by a man barred from the US as a suspected Russian mafioso – was the risible Loftus and old TYR target John A. Shaw, a Bush official who popped up at the height of the great pre-election RDX furore to feed the Washington Times a cock-and-bull story about Russian special forces spiriting the stuff over the border to Syria and the US authorities blaming Israel in order to cover this up. Immediately afterwards, TV evidence appeared that the RDX had been right there when US forces passed by. But Shaw had kept the story off the front pages for a news cycle or so in the last week of a presidential election. (You may recall this post.)

His reward was to be quietly fired a couple of months later. Apparently, the poor fool actually believes the story, rather like the chap who quit wrestling when he found out it was rigged and was horrified because he thought he won some of the fights fair and square.

But however hard the initial debunking, you have to do it all again, and again, again…

Ministry of Link

Interesting blog on piracy and such, here. One to go next to Carlos in my “You’re further right than Genghis Khan, but we can agree on at least one thing” file. BTW, anyone who reads down to the systempunkt-rockin’ map of Nigerian oil infrastructure can certainly pride themselves on having breached the Terrorism Act by having information that “could be of use to a terrorist”.

Worrying, it strikes me that this condition is a fairly good guide to what’s worth reading in the blogosphere.

FT Mag on Blogs

Not a bad article, except for…

1) straw-man argument – blogs are doomed to failure because
they can never replace big media! Who says we want to replace the Financial
Times? The argument is rubbish because the premise doesn’t hold.

2) bizarre logic – we should be even more suspicious “because no-one is even
pretending to get rich”, apparently. So being financially disinterested
makes you LESS credible? Wot?

3) false generalisation – apparently blogs do no reporting. Solution: read
some different blogs. I suspect he read Instapundit and Kos, and is now an
expert. Oh, and we all work for Gawker.

4) unrepresentative sample – yes, Ana Marie “Wonkette” Cox is pretty and she’s a yank, that doesn’t make her The Spokeswoman For Blog.
In fact, apart from the wildly overrated Instapundit, the only blogs he
appears to have read are the Gawker Media ones. Not only do none of these
really do reporting, and all of them are run by pros, they are also
commercial enterprises. Is it any coincidence that this covers all the bases
of his critique?

5) factual inaccuracy – contrary to his final thundering paragraph,
anthologies of blog have indeed been published in dead-tree form *right here
in London, and are available in bookshops within yards of FT headquarters!*
Apparently “the Gawker spirit” (see 4 above) is “wearing a little thin in
light of a seemingly endless bloody insurgency in Iraq..blah…Hurricane
Katrina…blah..corruption”. It may be, I dunno because I think Gawker’s
stuff is shit and don’t read it. But blogs have repeatedly broken news
stories on Iraq (that includes me, btw), have even sent their own reporter
to Iraq (Chris Alliton of Back to Iraq, who went to Kurdistan in 2003 funded
by reader contributions – why didn’t he interview him?), both reported live
on scene from Katrina and organised volunteer aid for refugees (I think I
missed the FT helping), and have led the news agenda on Capitol Hill
corruption (Josh Michua Marshall’s Talking Points Memo is the place to go,
and it employs no less that two full-time reporters! But we don’t do
reporting do we?)

6) Oh yes, and Marx was a cracking writer, but Instapundit obviously hasn’t
read him

7) Cluelessness – OF COURSE the best way to report on a decentralised
Internet medium is to fly at once to Washington DC and talk to the only
blogger anyone at the FT can find in Who’s Who! After all, if I just read
some blogs and asked questions, I wouldn’t be able to milk my expense
account or have the yanks stroke my ego – and life would no longer be worth
living.

If I was responsible for this heap of facile crapola I’d throw in the towel and go into public relations.

Fighting the Brainrot

Nonsense never dies. On the Internet that’s doubly true as – far from being more ephemeral as so many think – it doesn’t sink to the bottom and die, but hangs around in search engines and obscure blogs, waiting to be dredged up. You may remember John Loftus, who claims to know more intelligence secrets than any man alive but not that Abu Hamza (one hand) and Omar Bakri Mohammed (two hands) aren’t the same man.

Well, he dropped off my radar screen after that. But I see he’s back, touting tapes supposedly suggesting that Saddam really like totally did have so many WMDs (the Armchair Generalist reports). And what a bunch he’s with, too. Astonishingly, the best and most sceptical report is in, dear God, National Review Online, home of Jonah Goldberg and Co.

It seems his source is convinced that God told him where the weapons were, as well as the unconscious mind giving him a tip-off too.

Tierney’s methods of ascertaining this location were rather unconventional. “I would ask God and just get a sense if something was valid or not, and then know if I needed to pursue it,” he said. His assessments through prayer were then confirmed to him by a friend’s clairvoyant dream, where he was able to find the location on a map. “Everything she said lined up. This place meets the criteria,” Tierney said of the power generator plant near the Tigris River that he believes is actually a cover for a secret uranium facility.

Well, presumably no-one’s found any uranium there – they would hardly have shut up about it – so I wonder how his faith is getting on. Read the whole thing.

Also at the “intelligence summit” – funded, NRO tells us, by a man barred from the US as a suspected Russian mafioso – was the risible Loftus and old TYR target John A. Shaw, a Bush official who popped up at the height of the great pre-election RDX furore to feed the Washington Times a cock-and-bull story about Russian special forces spiriting the stuff over the border to Syria and the US authorities blaming Israel in order to cover this up. Immediately afterwards, TV evidence appeared that the RDX had been right there when US forces passed by. But Shaw had kept the story off the front pages for a news cycle or so in the last week of a presidential election. (You may recall this post.)

His reward was to be quietly fired a couple of months later. Apparently, the poor fool actually believes the story, rather like the chap who quit wrestling when he found out it was rigged and was horrified because he thought he won some of the fights fair and square.

But however hard the initial debunking, you have to do it all again, and again, again…





Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.