Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 27, 2004
WAR: War Links 5/27/04

*You've doubtless read this somewhere before - it's been linked all over - but if you haven't, go read this plea for a computer game that simulates the frustrations of real war, complete with weathervane politicians, hyper-negative media, fatuous celebrities, and all the other horrors of modern PR in wartime. It's sidesplittingly funny precisely because it captures the tragic reality so well.

*Daniel Pipes reminds us that we're still at war with Hamas and Hezbollah.

*The Wall Street Journal, LT Smash and Cori Dauber have more on the continuing stream of emerging evidence of cooperation between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda before the Iraq war, including some intriguing links to the September 11th plot (a linkage I've always been skeptical of but that seems here to have some potential substance to it). The Saddam equivalent of the "there is no Mafia" crowd will continue to deny, deny, deny, but Saddam's multifarious ties to terror groups were always cloaked in uncertainties, and the question was always how much of a chance we were willing to bet on his good will.

*Hitchens defends Chalabi

*Tim Noah, attacking a recent statement by Attorney General John Ashcroft, tries to argue that bin Laden wouldn't care about influencing the election to defeat George Bush. Noah throws in a totally gratuitous comparison of Ashcroft to bin Laden ("Chatterbox thought Ashcroft would show a greater aptitude for imagining the thought processes of an insane religious fanatic."). He also assumes, erroneously, that bin Laden would understand American politics well enough that "surely he would know—or someone would tell him—that the overwhelmingly likely political result of an attack against the United States in the months leading up to Election Day would be a landslide victory for Bush." This seems inconsistent with bin Laden's prior actions and statements, which suggest a guy who thinks the U.S. is weak and will fold at the first sign of trouble.

Now, I can understand why the idea that bin Laden could be rooting for Kerry - something Kerry can do little enough about, at this point - would rankle a Democrat like Noah. But get real: everyone outside the U.S. will read a Kerry victory as a defeat for an aggressive U.S. foreign policy, much as the contrary conclusion was drawn in 2002. The Islamists Bush has tangled with will declare victory. To some extent that happens whenever the incumbent loses, but it will be greatly magnified in the current circumstances. Trying to deny this makes Noah sound desperate.

*Wartime humor only from the mind of Laurence Simon: "Hey. Cool. Pandas."

*Shades of Larry David: Time Magazine gives Don Rumsfeld crap for calling himself a "survivor," but Tim Blair is ready with examples of Time reporters calling Bill Clinton a survivor for surviving nothing worse than oral sex and Newt Gingrich. Unmentioned here: uh, Rumsfeld also survived a terrorist attack - don't forget that he was in the Pentagon when it was hit by American Airlines Flight 77.

A slight tangent: maybe I've paid too little attention or maybe it's the media here in New York, but has the 9/11 Commission focused awfully heavily on the World Trade Center and ignored the Pentagon? Of course, the Pentagon's victims and survivors are a lot less sympathetic to Democrats, but still . . .

*Kevin Drum links to an article making the obvious point that the World War II Memorial shouldn't be criticized for having been built in a style that was popular during, well, World War II.

*Warblogger Dan Darling shows how blogging can be a great career move - if you're a college student. I just loved the part where he couldn't get recommendations from his professors because he wanted to work at the American Enterprise Institute.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:46 PM | War 2004 | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

Your opening link in this montage of war posts makes your point for you perfectly: if only the world were a video game programmed by neo-conservative evangelists with a penchant for blood lust, we could ignore historical evidence and we'd be the WINNERS. Yay!

Sigh... why are all these people with opinions that differ from mine such a hassle?

Posted by: adw at May 28, 2004 12:23 PM

No kidding. I guess it's just so difficult to conduct a war in a democracy with a free press that maybe we shouldn't do it unless the war meets an important foreign policy aim. It also helps if the commander-in-chief has a clue, but I'm just speaking hypothetically.

Posted by: James Withrow at May 28, 2004 02:26 PM

As it turns out, Wretchard over at the Belmont Club is several steps ahead of me in explaining why the satirical video game is such a dead-on depiction of the way wars are now fought.

adw: You obviously did not click the link before commenting.

Posted by: The Crank at May 28, 2004 02:58 PM

No, I did. I stand by my comment.

Posted by: adw at May 28, 2004 05:00 PM

I'm not sure Bin Laden actually wants Bush to lose. So far, Bush has played his part in Bin Laden's drama perfectly... What was one of Bin Laden's big problems to start with? American soldiers based in Saudi Arabis. What do we have now? An American invasion and occupation of a Muslim country. And poorly handled one at that. throw in the prison scandal, "collateral damage" and everything else and Bin Laden has been handed a recruitment bonanza.

I would contend that aside from the desire to kill Americans in spectacular and horrific fashion, the attacks of 9/11 were also designed to provoke a response. I will never fault Bush for the response in Afghanistan, (but I have a serious problem with his follow-through there), but the invasion of Iraq was unrelated to 9/11 in every way, except in Bin Laden's wildest dreams.

I honestly don't think Bin Laden cares very much who wins either way. He can justify and rationalize to his followers in every case. The differences between candidates are irrelevent to him. I'm sure he'd be as happy with four-more years of swaggering bully-in-chief as he would "declaring victory" if Kerry wins.

As far as Ashcroft goes, his comments were beyond the pale. If the Bush Administration doesn't want to seem like they are manipulating the public through fear and paranoia and politicizing any future "warnings" they need to get a leash on that guy. Of course that's exactly what they intend to do, so no problem on Pennsylvania Avenue with this I suppose...

BTW, any thoughts on today's Doonesbury? And any follow-up on your post about Trudeau tackling B.D's amputation? I'm curious how you think he handled things.

Posted by: Mr Furious at May 30, 2004 12:55 AM
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