What’s to say about a gunsight model number? Not much, unless it happens to be the code to the Christian Bible passage in chapter 4 verse 6 of Corinthians.

This hit the news yesterday. A small and very devout Michigan firm makes the gunsights, which include some of the finest military rifle scopes in the world.

And that’s the problem. These scopes are doing heavy service in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. They are being furnished to the Iraqi police force. To a culture still resentful of the Christian European Crusades back in the middle ages, the image of returning Crusaders is inescapable.
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Do You Still Beat Your Wife?

Zippy May 26 2007

Howdy Pardner, still think we’re doing the right thing?

Congratulations on purchasing The War. Your credit card has been charged for $2 trillion dollars (US) as you authorized. Sorry, no returns or refunds on perishables.

Definition: “Insanity” – repetition of the same actions over and over again, while expecting something new to come of it.

Let’s stop for a minute. If you ever made a mistake in your life, would you throw out all the tools you had to find and fix the problem?

As a nation we’re looking at Iraq in terms of whether it makes us look good or it makes us look bad.
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Betrayed: The Iraqis who trusted America the most

For a look at the people who are directly and personally affected by the Iraqi maelstrom, BETRAYED is compelling article in the New Yorker by correspondent George Packer.

Governments are uniquely qualified to tell us what they think of each other. The unit of power brokerage here is the great malleable blocks of people – the interest group. Thus, new Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki can give us his call on what the Sunnis are really doing, or the Shia, and we can generally believe he means it. Washington conservatives can tell us what they think of liberals, or liberals, of conservatives, or even of Maliki brokerage efforts, and we can generally believe they mean it.

What governments are not good at doing is speaking for how their actions actually impact real individuals in the target groups. Thus, if Washington prognosticates that a tax bill will bring relief to the long-suffering poor and middle class, even those of us who only get our news from The Simpsons know that here, we are expected to wink knowingly at each other and go on suffering.

So, what does this mini-ed have to do with the plight of ordinary Iraqi citizens? If you want to know how they’re impacted, go to the media, not the government. Work to keep the media free, warts and all.

If you are attuned to getting what you expect to hear out of the George Packer article, it’s a long article and you might have difficulty getting past the first couple of pages. In my case, there is a vacuum of news about ordinary people in Iraq. I had difficulty putting the article down to eat dinner.


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Iraq Talks

Actually, money talks. Is it time our critics put their money where their mouth is?

In a surprise turnaround announced by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, America will attend the security conference that is planned for March 10 and is expected to include Syria and Iran.

Iraq has said “we will attend the conference if it is expedient.”

This is just my own personal opinion, but we should attend, sit down, listen to all our critics, and shut up. This isn’t some sort of anti-American apologia. It’s the only strategy I can think of where we can win.

Whether we like it or not, the talks won’t be a forum for us to promote the well-known American position on Iraq and the Middle East. So we should sit down, listen and take notes.

The talks won’t be a forum to hear for the first time what Iraq, Syria and even many of our own allies would like us to do. It’s highly doubtful that anything approaching a majority of even the Iraqis themselves would like the US to stay and continue attracting Sunni car bombers and paramilitary terrorism.

Our position should be: “You know what we want to do. We know what you want us to do. We are just here to hear your proposals on what you would do to bring security and stability to the problems of Iraq.”

If Iran and Syria have no proposals to bring to the conference, their criticism of any US participation in the process rings hollow before an expectant world. If they have credible proposals that other countries could consider supporting, then the ball’s in their court. While we can’t guess the intentions of Ms. Rice and the American entourage, this is Iran and Syria’s chance, as it were, to put up or shut up.

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Shock & Awe: Invasion and Protests

No matter what else you thought about it, ground forces are now less than a day from Baghdad. Some question whether Hussein survived the bunker-busters. The Iraqi military gives the appearance of being in disarray. Surrendering Iraqi units surpass American preparations to receive and process Iraqis who just want to go back to civilian life.

For the record, we would have preferred staying with the diplomatic process, or even a more proactive combination of psy-war (propaganda), political activism, and brazen capitalist enticements. For our money, one sniper should have taken Saddam out a decade ago, or perhaps American billions should have finished the job in Desert Sand when a majority of our allies still backed us.
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Bickersons at Saddam’s Palace

ANNOUNCER: Don Ameche and Frances Langford as John and Blanche Bickerson in “The Honeymoon is Over.”


ANNOUNCER: The Bickersons are discussing vacation plans in bed. It’s 3 o’clock in the morning and Mrs. Bickerson is still holding out for “Paris in Springtime” . Poor husband George, victim of “raucous insomnia” or “Whimper’s Malady” is holding out for their originally booked Baghdad tour. The argument reaches a climax during an acute attack of his strange ailment, inarticulateness. Listen.

“The Bickersons”, a 1940’s radio show whose name became synonymous with marital discord, was a little before my time. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the War In Iraq is a little before George’s time.
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War on Iraq? Timing is everything!

When JFK faced down Khruschev over the Cuban Crisis, he had the deck stacked in his favor. We had U2 photos of the missile freighters in Havana Harbor. We had photos of the missiles and launchers. We had world attention and we had a sense of urgency. When Kennedy presented his findings on TV to the nation and the world, Khruschev was caught red-handed. clear and present danger was clearcut and unequivocal. I remember well when he faced down Khrushchev and the missiles were (eventually) withdrawn. I was in the Armed Forces at the time. Within days, my unit was setting up Hawk missile batteries all up and down the Florida Keys.

President Bush has his hands full trying to restore normalcy to Afghanistan, hunting down Al Qaeda, and protecting the life of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul. Saddam is no Khruschev. His tinpot regime in Baghdad bodes no good to any nation, especially to his closest Arab League neighbors. But Iraq is no USSR.
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