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October 31, 2004 - October surprises as seen from Paris, Atlanta, and...

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Joseph, our expatriate friend who has settled in France and no longer lives out here in my little corner of Los Angeles, sends this along -


Opening paragraph from the New York Times:


Allawi Places Some Blame for Executions on U.S.-Led Forces

Byline: Richard A. Oppel Jr. [no link available]


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 26 - Prime Minister Ayad Allawi said today that "major neglect" by some of the American-led forces in Iraq led to a weekend ambush by infiltrators that left 49 Iraqi National Guard trainees dead.


Joseph comments -


Geez, what an ingrate! No sooner do we prop this guy up, and already he's blaming us for all that is wrong in Iraq. Well, I guess that's what we get...


BTW: The missing 380 tons of weapons-grade high explosives missing from the complex south of Bagdad is emblematic of the administration's folly in Iraq.  Clearly, we knew about this stockpile before the invasion, but didn't have enough boots on the ground to lock it down. This is exactly the problem with Rummy's goofy "minimal force" theories, and disbanding the Iraqi army, and a perfect example of how the invasion has - and predictably - made the world more "terrorist friendly.


And this is just the stuff we know about. Condi knew this a month ago, but we weren't told on the theory that we should not intimate what we know to the enemy, but presumably the enemy knows he's got the stuff, and would have to think we're total fools to not know they have it. Couldn't be political.


Ever wonder where the insurgents are getting all their firepower?  From weapons caches just like this one, that we didn't have the manpower to lock down.


"The only humane force is irresistible force" - Gen. D. E. Eisenhower


I like Ike.


Finally, I see that W is asking for another $70 Billion (break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar).


Whatever happened to the good old days when the winner in a conflict (un)like this, exacted huge war "reparations"?  Assuming we ever get the Iraqi fields online, how long will it take us to pay for this war, anyway?   Hey, "to the victor go the spoils" - this is a time honored tradition.


Vince in upstate New York has that covered –


Have no fear - our children's children pay for "our" transgressions!  Guaranteed by the bankers!


Well, that does seem so.


But Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, is puzzled…


Condi knew this a month ago?


Didn't we all? I mean, is this a different huge pile of weapons than the one we all knew about a year ago that went missing since we took Baghdad, cited by critics who had been saying all along that we didn't have enough troops in there?


What am I missing in this story? Maybe the new story is just that the UN finally confirmed that those weapons they had been monitoring all took a hike after they turned them over to American control?


Ric Erickson of MetropoleParis chimes in –


There are 380 tons of weapons-grade high explosives missing?


Are there other kinds of high explosives (HE) that aren't 'weapons-grade?'


For example, the 70 attacks with machine guns, rockets, and bombs that have exploded in Corsica over the past three years, mainly directed against gendarmes.


The noisy one on Thursday night was reported to be a charge of 15 kilos coupled to a butane tank. The bulletproof windows of the cop shop were blown out.


No need to go to Iraq for this stuff. You can find it on the 'Isle of Beauty.'


But Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta shoots back –


No need to go to Iraq for this stuff? You can find it on the 'Isle of Beauty?’


Please!  One invasion at a time, if you don't mind!


I mean, why bother, since we're already in Iraq


Joseph deep in France responds to both –


To Ric Erickson -


Are there other kinds of high explosives (HE) that aren't 'weapons-grade?'


Well, I think the hair splits this way: you can't just take some C-4 or C-Tex or whatever, slap it on a core and achieve a nuclear reaction.  Apparently, some of this stuff was the raw material necessary to achieve the not-so-difficult last step of making the shape-charges appropriate for the job.


To Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta –


I really don't remember the story you are speaking of.  So much was going missing at that time I should have put it in a spreadsheet.  So tell us definitively: is this an old story that is being recycled as one lame-assed Democrat "October surprise" or not?


Rick in Atlanta replies –


A lame-assed Democrat "October surprise" or not?


I don't think so.  I think it may be a case of either my confusing this huge looting of Iraqi weapons with some other huge looting of Iraqi weapons, or else it's that I had heard rumors way back then that this sort of thing happened at the same time that looting of stores and history museums and even suspected Iraqi nuclear sites was taking place in Baghdad for days after Iraqi officials abandoned their posts due to the approach of the Americans, and that the reports are just now being confirmed by the U.N., which is where the story broke, by the way.


I'm pretty sure I saw TV news video of these things happening, but may also have read about it in New Yorker magazine articles. I wish I had time to research it but I don't. Sorry.


Phillip Raines jumps in with a question –


Why weren't the contents of these bunkers detonated upon discovery?  I would think that would be important for the safety of our troops.  Yet another military blunder?


Seems so.  That is a good question.


Rick in Atlanta has an answer –


The bunkers actually are on the schedule for detonation, I think for next Thursday afternoon between 12-noon and 5 pm, but we have to make sure someone is there during those hours to let the guy in.


The big question being batted around now seems to be, exactly when were these bunkers discovered?  Cheney et al are trying to make the case that this stuff may well have disappeared before American soldiers got there. Given the fact that the U.N. had been monitoring these bunkers for years -- and quite successfully, we should all note -- my next question is, why would it take this long for the Americans to figure out the stuff wasn't there anymore?  When you're guarding something, you'd think you'd know what you're guarding or not guarding, wouldn't you?  ("You two! Go guard that bunker over there.  But remember: No peeking!")


The obviously irrelevant (at least as far as our election is concerned) flip-flop that keeps occurring to me is the one that goes like this: (a) Whenever the question comes up about whether we had enough boots on the ground to do this thing right, the Bush group invariably says we absolutely did have enough, but (b) whenever someone suggests that all this looting should have been prevented, the Bush group counters that we didn't have enough boots on the ground to do that.


I've been toying with the idea of joining some group after the election that pushes for doing away with the Electoral College, but now I'm having second thoughts whether We, The People are smart enough to deserve a direct vote of our own.


I mean, why bother?  As I've mentioned before and am now more convinced than ever, and for reasons that I have yet to fathom, I do think George W. Bush could go on national TV this weekend to have live sex with a small farm animal, and still get reelected next Tuesday, and not even a popular vote could keep that from happening.


Stephan in Canada jumps in here –


Could George W. Bush go on national TV this weekend to have live sex with a small farm animal, and still get reelected next Tuesday, and not even a popular vote could keep that from happening?

Sad but true.  Just saw a new television spot yesterday showing a woman whose husband (brother/son?) died in Iraq looking for WMD's while Georgie was making jokes in the white house looking under the couch and laughing... "Nope, not there…"

That won't change one ignorant voter's mind either.

So Bush gets another four years.  More war.  Less freedom at home (think Patriot Act II, and more if we have another 9/11).  And the economy will be shot for decades.

Think I'll be staying here in Canada a wee bit longer- and travel with my Canadian, not my US passport.


Rick in Atlanta responds –


I saw that ad last night! It was her brother.


I remember thinking when I saw it that Bush will think twice next time before he lets his hair down and kids around at any of those Correspondents' Dinners.  But then I realized that this ad, as pointed as it was, will be lucky if it ever does him any damage at all, since anyone who would take note of the emotional argument it makes is probably already a Kerry believer anyway.  If there's someone out there who still thinks Bush didn't screw up that war, that person is by this time a lost cause forever.


Yep.  And then Ric Erickson gives us the latest from Paris on these matters –


Trust the wretched Europeans to being up a subject like this.


Tonight's Franco-German Arte-TV has just been showing a report from Canada about the deserters from the US armed forces who have taken up residence north of the border.


Canada has had a long history of taking in disaffected Americans, going back to the Civil War when the 'underground railroad' smuggled 50,000 ex-slaves out of the United States and into Canada.


More recently, everybody remembers the Vietnam era when 100,000 went north to escape the draft or as deserters. Not all of these returned home, and some that stayed are giving aid to new arrivals.


Two spokesmen were on the Arte report. They were Bill King, a musician who now hosts a jazz show on radio in Toronto; and John Hagen, a writer (a historian?).


Tonight's other reports on Arte dealt with some mothers of soldiers killed or wounded in Irag, and with a third-generation Syrian who is running for Congress as a Republican in New Jersey - after having paid a visit to Iraq.


The lead documentary this evening was about the 1999 court case in Memphis that sought to shed some light on the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. According to the film, King was not killed by James Earl Ray - a theory supported by 68 witnesses who were heard during the hearing.  Very few of these witnesses had been asked to testify during the investigation of the murder.


What next?


Good question!


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....