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.
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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)
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
Some Echoes of September 11 [,2001]
The “war on terror” is not yet two years old –it entered its 21st month just three days ago- and already seems to be losing momentum in the public's mind. In the last two months the United States has taken over Iraq with relative ease due to little resistance, but "Criticism," in the words of Alan Elsner of Reuters, "is mounting at the failure of the United States to find Iraqi nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs, with some experts raising questions about U.S. intelligence as well as the way the Bush administration justified the war." (Even Andrew Sullivan is bothered by this.) The Iraqi capital of Baghdad is experiencing what could be reasonably be called chaos and U.S. troops have reportedly been authorized to shoot Iraqi looters.
Yes North Korea and Syria might soon be targets but there doesn't appear to be much public or official enthusiasm for actions either and while anti-terrorism and terrorism prep work, such as this "dirty bomb" exercise that could possibly soon become all too relevant for reasons the Bush Administration probably isn't proud of, continues, they are decidedly not the glamorous side of the "war on terror."
Arguably nothing of late has invigorated the "war on terror" as a popular, or at least popular in the media, endeavor more than a shot from the other side - Monday's bombing in Saudi Arabia, which is suspected to be an al Qaeda operation and killed at least 34 people including nine bombers. Officials of both the Saudi and U.S. governments are reportedly wondering if this is the first in a new round of attacks. Mark Huband of The Financial Times reported yesterday that some in Saudi Arabia are speculating that Osama bin Laden may have played a key role in the attack. "Does terror ever end?" asks Nicholas M. Horrock of the UPI in a column published this afternoon.
Much of this is likely the shop talk of a culture where every five seconds requires a superficial explanation every five minutes, but there also can be no doubt that the impetus -an apparently highly organized attack against Saudi Arabia and the U.S.- is hardly fiction. The reality of the attack can be seen in the words of President George W. Bush. "We mourn the loss of life. These despicable acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate," Bush said yesterday. "And the United States will find the killers and they will learn the meaning of American justice." This is good old fashion fire-and-brimstone you-hit-us-we'll-destroy-you material represents what I term the Revenge Impulse and a dramatic change from Bush's recent speeches about "war on terror," which have largely been filled with I term the Empire Impulse, as they are about using military force to achieve the relatively abstract goal of gaining greater security from entities that are implicitly assumed to not currently be a threat to the U.S.
Bush and those around him will likely milk the current atmosphere for all it is worth and, if they do, can pretty much count on increased support for whatever new action in the "war on terror" they decide to push.
Not everybody became focused on this bombing. Glenn Reynolds, for instance, has posted surprisingly little about it over the past few days. Amongst the more interesting of such posts are this one which links to this entry where Andrea Harris argues that discerning between terrorists is a mistake in a manner that should cause a collective smile from the Bush Administration. "One of the rubes bought it!"
In another post, Reynolds offers a assessment of the attack:
I think that this is a desperate effort by Al Qaeda to show that it can still do something. And the target audience is largely in Saudi Arabia and the Islamic world, not here. But the world has changed to their disadvantage. Against the backdrop of (false) security in the 1990s, stuff like this was big news. Now -- next to the war in Iraq -- this looks like small potatoes by skulking losers.Hey it worked on the Wizard of Oz.
At no point does Reynolds bring up the fact that he might be hoping that the Saudi Arabian government "fall to factions sympathetic to Al Qaeda" or his support last August of the idea that a U.S. victory over Iraq would "humiliate" Arabs and Muslims into submitting to the U.S.
Mass graves near Hilla, Iraq have been found, reports the BBC, which says, " Local volunteers say the remains of up to 3,000 people had been found so far, but estimates suggest there could be as many as 15,000 buried at the site."
"The U.S. government has known since May 3 about the existence of a mass grave in Hilla but has not taken action to protect the site," Human Rights Watch said in a statement released today. "On May 3, the mayor of Hilla requested assistance from U.S. marines to guard the site. On May 5, investigators for the Pentagon’s Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA) reported to authorities in Washington that the grave had been inadequately protected, and recommended the creation of mobile forensic teams that could visit the site. On May 7, ORHA reported to Washington that the mass grave might contain several thousand bodies."
British Prime Minister Tony Blair says this finding justifies the war, reports Philip Webster of The Times.