micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links
Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.
Please send him email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Holmquist's full archives are listed here.
Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)
Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)
Thursday, May 22, 2003
-"Hussein, we were told, had 25,000 liters of anthrax--'enough to kill several million people.' He might have had 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin, good for several million more dead. He might have manufactured 500 tons of poison gas. He had 'upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents,'" writes Steve Chapman in a piece that appeared on The Washington Dispatch on Monday. Actually if you read the White House document Chapman apparently gets his numbers from, it is clear that the White House was hedging but actually only say that these materials had not been accounted for by Saddam.
-Brendan O'Neill of Spiked argues in Tuesday's "Wild weapons chase" that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq " is as much a search for America's foreign policy as it is for Saddam's illegal stockpile." O'Neill's argument has two main prongs but it is perhaps most notable for never engaging with the idea that the search might be powered by the idea that not finding whatever WMD or equipment used to develop WMD poses a great security risk. One needn't buy into the argument that this is main concern of the Bush Administration to at least acknowledge that such concerns would be a powerful motivating factor and that, without inside knowledge, it is impossible to say that this is not the primary reason the U.S. is doing the searching. O'Neill contends that political concerns can not explain the desire to find WMD because, according to an April 5 Washington Post article that he cites, the general public in the U.S. doesn't feel that not finding such weapons takes away from the legitimacy of the war and, according to an May 17 Washington Post article that O'Neill cites, Democrats say they are not planning on using it against Bush if no WMD or related equipment end up being found. What this fails to acknowledge is that Democrats are unlikely to give away from their full playbook -something the Bush Administration no doubt knows- and people too numerous to not fully, but including the hawkish Bill O'Reilly of Fox News, have in fact said that there should be fall out if WMD are not found in Iraq.
O'Neill also makes the point that finding weapons of mass destruction has become the sole positivist mission of the U.S. in Iraq. "Since 11 September, America has defined its international role in defensive terms, as standing up to evil regimes and amorphous terror groups 'over there'. In the absence of a positive mission to project around the world, US officials hope that the discovery of bad things in Iraq will be enough to justify America's international role," O'Neill writes without ever acknowledging that bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq is a crucial and undisputed part of the Bush Administration's publicly stated mission in Iraq, as evidenced by President George W. Bush's February 26 speech before the American Enterprise Institute.
-In a Slate column published on Tuesday, "Weapons and Terror: Did the Iraq war really boost al-Qaida?," fervent supporter of the war that came to be known as Operation Iraqi Freedom Christopher Hitchens makes it clear that in his mind not finding whatever WMD or WMD programs that may exist poses no great security threat. In fact Hitchens even lampoons the idea that Iraq was much of a threat. "...obviously there couldn't have been very many weapons in Saddam's hands, nor can the coalition have believed there to be. You can't station tens of thousands of men and women in uniform on the immediate borders of Iraq for several months if you think that a mad dictator might be able to annihilate them with a pre-emptive strike," Hitchens writes to make a point similar to the one I made in "Bush's Charade" from December 10.
Later Hitchens writes, "Thus if nothing has been found so far, and if literally nothing (except the mobile units predicted and described by one defector) is found from now on, it will mean that the operation was a success. The stuff must have been destroyed, or neutralized, or work on it must have been abandoned during the long grace period that was provided by the U.N. debates." This is effectively the same logical fallacy that U.S. Information Minister George W. Bush has made. It assumes that if the war was fought with the stated purpose of preventing Saddam from having WMD that if Saddam now no longer has such weapons that the war caused this situation. Maybe this is the case, but it hardly a given and the flow of "logic" used here reflects a mind that is closed to finding out facts as they could only challenge the desired, and to some extent established, narrative, which in allows Hitchens to duck hard questions. "If the Iraqi regime were disarming," Bush said on March 6, "we would know it, because we would see it." If it turns out that Iraq had in fact disarmed the question becomes did the White House know it? If not, there was a huge intelligence failure that should be of great concern. If they did, then Team Bush is guilty of lying to justify a war. Hitchens has an admirable history of trying to hold the likes of Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger accountable for their misdeeds, which only makes it that much more sad that he is antagonistic to even finding out if Bush is guilty of offenses at least as great as those of Clinton.
The biggest problem with the piece, however, is that Hitchens does not answer the titular question. He does imply a link between al Qaeda and Saddam. "As to the terrorists who (remember?) had 'no connection' to Saddam Hussein, they seem moved nonetheless to take revenge for his fall. Can that possibly mean they feel they have lost a friend?" he "asks." The question would be hilarious if delivered extemporaneously. When presented as a serious point in a published piece, it is idiotic. There have been those who have said that an invasion of Iraq would lead to al Qaeda gaining new recruits and attacking the U.S. and allies of the U.S. nearly as long as a post-September 11, 2001 invasion of Iraq has been talked about. Not because al Qaeda is tied to Saddam but because they preferred him controlling Iraq to the U.S. being in charge. And Hitchens does offer a solid, albeit obvious, defense of the idea that attacks by al Qaeda do not mean that it wrong to wage war against al Qaeda. However, like the rest of the piece, that says nothing about whether or not U.S. actions in Iraq have given a "boost" to al Qaeda.
-The Wall Street Journal argued on Saturday that Poland is now a more powerful country than either France or Germany. The Wall Street Journal concedes that France and Germany have stronger economies than Poland and a look at the CIA's The World Factbook 2002 suggests that France and Germany both have stronger militaries than Poland, but is of course silly to consider such measurements in light of the fact that Poland is the side of the U.S. In related news, a prototype for a new sports publication from the editors of The Wall Street Journal came out on Monday and features a piece arguing that Danny Ferry is a better basketball player than either Kobe Bryant or Shaquille O'Neal.
-In a May 11 obituary of the underappreciated Ted Joans, Michael E. Ross of MSNBC writes, "Recordings to which Joans, a trumpeter, contributed include 'Live at the Pan-African Festival,' ..." Technically that's all true as Joans did play the trumpet and he did appear on Archie Shepp's Live at the Pan-African Festival album, but it is misleading since Joans was reading poetry on that recording of performances from July 29 and 30, 1969, not blowing notes. (FWIW, two years ago Fuel 2000 released that recording along with Blase, which was recorded in Paris studio less than a month after Live at the Pan-African Festival and features expatriates trumpeter Lester Bowie, bassist Malachi Flavors and drummer Philly Joe Jones. Nothing in the linear notes or packaging of this combined release refers to the presence of Joans save for "t. joans, a. shepp" getting credit for the writing "We Have Come Back," the track that Joans appears on.)