Saturday, October 05, 2002

The CIA has a report about Iraq's weapon capabilities right here. Note the thousands of casualties from Iraq's chemicals. Also, take a gander at this sentence:
UNSCOM discovered a document at Iraqi Air Force headquarters in July 1998 showing that Iraq overstated by at least 6,000 the number of chemical bombs it told the UN it had used during the Iran-Iraq War—bombs that remain are unaccounted for.
Take a look at these footnotes defining what the gases Iraq has:

[1] Mustard is a blister agent that causes medical casualties by blistering or burning exposed skin, eyes, lungs, and mucus membranes within hours of exposure. It is a persistent agent that can remain a hazard for days.

[2] Sarin, cyclosarin, and tabun are G-series nerve agents that can act within seconds of absorption through the skin or inhalation. These agents overstimulate muscles or glands with messages transmitted from nerves, causing convulsions and loss of consciousness. Tabun is persistent and can remain a hazard for days. Sarin and cyclosarin are not persistent and pose more of an inhalation hazard than a skin hazard.

[3] VX is a V-series nerve agent that is similar to but more advanced than G-series nerve agents in that it causes the same medical effects but is more toxic and much more persistent. Thus, it poses a far greater skin hazard than G-series agents. VX could be used for long-term contamination of territory.

[4] See footnote 5.

[5] Bacillus subtilis is commonly used as a simulant for B. anthracis.

[6] An infectious dose of anthrax is about 8,000 spores, or less than one-millionth of a gram in a non immuno-compromised person. Inhalation anthrax historically has been 100 percent fatal within five to seven days, although in recent cases aggressive medical treatment has reduced the fatality rate.

[7] Ricin can cause multiple organ failure within one or two days after inhalation.

Frightening, no? Especially when you consider the mindset of Saddam, summarized here.

Friday, October 04, 2002

The author of Black Hawk Down writes a portrait of Saddam Hussein that casts serious doubts about Saddam's sanity. After reading this article, I think that it is no longer possible to believe that Saddam can be deterred.

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Barbara Streisland has been accusing the Bush administration of catering to "big business". The Drudge Report took a look at her financies, and found out that she bought stock in Halliburton, one of the companies she insults, while Dick Cheney was president of it! We have met stupid people, and one of them is Barbara Streisland.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Glenn Reynolds is just as cool as a ninja with a jetpack, because he linked to me again! To all of those people coming from Glenn's site, welcome to my humble abode.
Warning, Geeky nitpicking follows:
The Captain is disturbed by a picture of a Spanish sailing ship in space. He thinks the ships sails shouldn't be billowing. However, he forgot about solar wind, which would be capable of propelling a ship like that.
There was a bombing right by a bar in the Philipines that is frequently used by U.S. military personnel. One American soldier was killed in the blast. Is the PLO strategy of bombing civilian places spreading?

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

A General of the Palestinian Authority admits that they have the capability to fight Hamas, but they just aren't interested in doing anything.
Via Damian Penny.
The U.N. inspector says that Iraq accepts all inspector's rights. Of course, he then mentions how "presidential sites" in Iraq are still off limits, thus leaving a huge amount of facilities for Iraq to hide weapons in, thus negating any value of weapon inspections.

Sunday, September 29, 2002

Let me execute Bin Ladin, Giuliani asks.
Okay folks, now its part two of my takedown of Ted Rall. This time, since we have already disproved what sources he has, we are going to take a look at the conclusions that he reaches. This essay will focus on the most stupid statements that he has made. Part three will be an opinionated deconstruction of his beliefs. Got your popcorn, kiddies? Good, let’s get started.
The Taliban, desperate to avoid the onslaught to come, offered to turn over bin Laden upon the presentation of evidence of 9-11 culpability, but the U.S. refused even to discuss extradition.
To believe that the Taliban was actually going to give Bin Ladin up is so stupid that it redefines the word stupid. First of all, it ignores the fact that the Taliban had been asked before 9-11 to give up Bin Ladin. It also ignores some recently uncovered information, namely that the Taliban relied on Bin Ladin's troops in order to maintain power, and that the Taliban was effectively governed by Bin Ladin. Because of this, the Taliban was obviously not going to turn over Bin Ladin. Also, how exactly is the Taliban more trustworthy than the American government? What makes Ted Rall think that the Taliban was earnest and forthright, while the U.S. is bad?
Why, then, had the United States targeted Afghanistan? If the war wasn't central to eliminating anti-American Islamist terrorist groups, if the perpetrators of 9-11 were several time zones away, if Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were allowed to slip away because their capture hadn't ever been a priority--then why?
Two ways to answer this question. One is the cloak and daggers explanation that Ted Rall takes, meaning that it must be a conspiracy. The other is that there were mistakes in an otherwise good plan. By using Occam's razor, we can see that it is far more likely that there were mistakes. But then, Ted Rall would not be able to blame the world’s misfortunes on capitalist oppressor pigs, now would he?
Why was it spending $1 billion per month on this operation? Why was it willing to put its young men and women in harm's way, much less drop so much ordnance that well over 3,000 Afghan civilians were killed in the process?
Ted Rall is asking a "Are you still beating your wife?” question here. The way he phrases his question is deliberately designed so that the U.S. looks bad either way, making the question a setup. He also lies like a dog about the statistic about how many Afghanistan civilians were killed, since there were not nearly so many killed, as proven before. Oh, and the "young men and women in harm" question? We did it because they are our military, and it's their job to be in harms way. We try not to put them in situations where they are definitely going to be killed, but it is a job where there is a certain amount of risk. That's why it's called the Army, son.
U.S. intervention in Somalia, for instance, had less to do with feeding hungry Africans than controlling the strategic Gulf of Aden, [13] through which oil tankers pass from the Indian Ocean en route to the Suez Canal via the Red Sea.
If that's true, than why was the U.S. so eager to bug out of there at the earliest possible moment?
While the Vietnam conflict is popularly believed to have stemmed from the Cold War-era "domino theory" obsession among U.S. officials, energy company interest in South Vietnamese natural gas reserves played at least as vital a role in American military intervention as anti-Communist ideology.
Ted Rall never cites any evidence to prove this. Besides, the natural gas wasn't discovered until after the Vietnam war, thus neatly poking a hole into Rall's theory.
And few doubt a relationship between the importance of Venezuela as the biggest producer of oil in the Western hemisphere and a botched Bush Administration coup attempt against its democratically-elected president, Hugo Chàvez.
I do. If Ted had been looking at the newspapers, he would have known that there was trouble in Venezuela for a long period of time. Hugo was (and still is) acting like a would-be dictator leftist, and that much of the opposition is home-grown. Besides, if the U.S. had acted in the coup, than why didn't it stick?
It was, conservative pundits claimed, only after the United States-backed Northern Alliance victory that thoughts turned to the possibility of building a potentially lucrative pipeline project across Afghanistan.
Rall cites this source to "prove" that conservative pundits claimed this. The only problem was that this particular person was writing for a site that has been praised as the most even-handed one one the internet, as said by both Conservatives and Liberals. Hardly a conservative bastion.
In addition, a large foreign--read, American--occupation force would be required for many years to enforce comparative law and order, and it remains to be seen whether the Bush Administration--much less future American presidents--will be inclined to devote substantial financial and military resources to the aftermath of our 2001 Afghan adventure. If pragmatism triumphs over ideology, it seems likely that the oil companies involved, reported to be led once again by the California-based Unocal Corporation [27], will reconsider their decision to bypass the shorter, cheaper and infinitely more workable Iranian proposal.
Hold it. We are supposed to believe the Bush administration started a long and heavy military campaign for an oil pipe that would have been not practical or profitable in the first place? Wouldn't that be extremely stupid of an administration of whom Ted Rall accuses of being a devious dictatorship? Where is the consistency here?
There is no smoking gun, no leaked White House memo, dated August 2001, signed by George W. Bush, that calls for invading Afghanistan on whatever pretext imaginable to secure it as a possible pipeline route.
So what are we talking about?
There is, however, a preponderance of evidence that the drive to establish an American-friendly regime in Kabul was undertaken not to protect American interests from the attacks of Islamist radicals, but to enter the "New Great Game" for Central Asian oil. This is certainly the accepted view among leaders and ordinary citizens of other Western nations, and it is one that is impossible to avoid after examining the published evidence.
Watch me not be convinced in the slightest.
The U.S. was so desperate to control a key exit route for landlocked Central Asian oil that it was willing to cause the deaths of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians and remove from power the first Afghan government in two decades to bring some measure of stability and order to the country.
"Yes, I know that they were ignorant, cruel, vicious, violently against women, supported terrorism, destabilized other countries, banned music, television, education, and other religions, but isn't stability the most important thing?"
Rather than take up the Iranian government on its recent overtures to thaw relations, the U.S. established a puppet regime on Iran's eastern border whose express purpose is to "freeze out" Iran. If Iran drifts away from Western-style reforms, if anti-Americanism sweeps the richest, most culturally and politically potent nation in the Middle East, the Bush Administration will certainly be to blame.
Since Iran is actually boiling towards a revolution for a western style government, doesn't Bush deserve some credit for this?
If we fail to secure the support of our allies when we genuinely need it, we may lose our status as a superpower--and this will be the Bush Administration responsibility. The geopolitical consequences of this breach are currently unknowable.
Why do we need Europe's help, especially when their military is so much worse than ours?
In April 2001, the United States approved a $43 million United Nations payment to the Taliban as a reward for curtailing opium cultivation, and extensive informal ties linked the two governments
The payment was not to the Taliban for curtailing opium. It was to feed hungry Afghanistan civilians, as you can see here.(Just scroll down a bit).
Along with fellow journalists I saw oil rigs lining the highway east of Taloqan in Takhar Province; they were functioning even during the November-December 2001 bombings. Russia's Rosneft states that, based on Soviet-era data collected during the 1980s, Afghanistan "has substantial reserves of light low-sulfur oil amounting to 95 million barrels and up to 5 trillion cubic feet of possible natural gas reserves worth around $22 billion."
We're supposed to take Rall's word for this, since he doesn't cite any other journalists that agree with him. Also, $22 billion isn't all that much in oil when we consider how big our government's budget is.
But the overall argument is well-taken: the idea of a trans-Afghan pipeline is ill-considered, absurdly premature and probably constitutes financial suicide. It's a big world--why would anyone sink hard-earned billions into Afghanistan?
Because, as The Guardian admits in the same article, the pipeline dream "is too good to resist."

I don't believe it, because companies are pragmatic, not stupid like Ted.
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers possessed Saudi passports, the common link between Mohammad Atta and his partners was their Egyptian ethnicity--and membership in Islamic Jihad--an Egyptian group responsible for the 1981 assassination of Anwar Sadat and the Luxor Temple massacre. Islamic Jihad, based in Egypt, probably carried out 9-11.
That's a really large leap, considering that there have been no tapes that have linked Islamic Jihad yet. That doesn't make them good guys, but still.
During the Florida election crisis of 2000, for example, the fact that the presidential candidate's brother was that state's governor--and failed to recuse himself--raised more than a few eyebrows.
Jeb Bush did recuse himself. It was Katherine Harris who didn't. Get your facts right.
The point is that in all likelihood a president of the United States invaded a sovereign state for one cynical reason: to create a puppet state that might, with luck, serve as a conduit for oil to go into SUVs on American highways.
Considering the tone of the essay, Ted Rall has no right to accuse other people of being cynical. And again, the Taliban was never recognized by the U.N. as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan.

Ugh. All that reading of Ted Rall's muck has made me very sick. Part three will come later.