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Andrew's Winds of War: 2003-08-25

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Welcome! Our goal is to give you one power-packed briefing of insights, news and trends from the global War on Terror that leaves you stimulated, informed, and occasionally amused every Monday & Thursday. Today's "Winds of War" is brought to you by Andrew Olmsted. TOP TOPICS * Good intelligence is key to winning an asymmetrical war, and the U.S.'s decision to recruit former Iraqi agents for the task may be a good step in the right direction. But the decision carries a major political risk, and it gives anti-U.S. forces a golden opportunity to slip some double agents into the mix. In the long run, this is probably a good decision, but it's going to carry a stiff cost for the Administration. Hat tip: Instapundit. * JK: Trent points to a devastating article by Ralph Peters that details the stunning level of U.N. incompetence and refusal to secure or prepare its HQ in Baghdad. Fortunately for the U.N., a couple of Americans fought and flim-flammed their way to preparations that may have saved hundreds of lives that day. Read all about it. * The 'cease-fire' is over, and the fighting is ramping up in Israel as an Israeli helicopter attack killed four members of Hamas in Gaza City. Although it is to Israel's best interests for the fiction of the cease-fire to end, look for Europe and others to complain bitterly about Israel's 'perpetuating the cycle of violence.' Other Topics Today Include: Another Iraqi blogger!; Bring 'Em On Watch; Troop strength in Iraq; Britain's arrest of a former Iranian ambassador; Corruption in Iran's economy; Is India helping Iran become nuclear?; Why cell phones matter; Bombay bombing; Afghanistan update; Possible good news in the North Korea talks; the Marines leave Liberia (for now); Colombia bombing; a possible Canadian 9/11; and a Khmer-Rouge theme park.
IRAQ BRIEFING * JK: Another Iraqi blogger! and a good one, too, judging by her post on unemployment and reconstruction in Iraq. (Hat Tip: M. Simon) * According to Time Magazine, the Baghdad bombing is a big loss for the United States. They don't seem to consider the possibility that the bombing, while tragic, may have driven home a painful truth about the Islamofascists: with them, you truly are with them or against them. * Indeed, the attacks on soft targets in Iraq may be backfiring on the Islamofascists. Popular support for those attacking coalition forces has dropped in the wake of recent attacks. It's too early to be definitive, but this is good news for the Coalition as they fight for hearts and minds. * Violence between Kurds and Turkmens led to unrest in the key city of Kirkuk this weekend. Disrupting Iraq's oil production is a key goal for the Islamofascists; whether this violence was instigated by them, or arose from natural disputes between the two ethnic groups, it represents a good opportunity for the Islamofascists to undermine occupation forces yet again. * Bring 'Em On Watch continues; L. Paul Bremer reports that Iraq may be becoming the place international terrorists plan to assemble and make a stand against the West. While many people continue to believe the United States has no hope of transforming Iraq, perhaps the Islamofascists are somewhat more convinced of our ability to do that? * The question of troop strength in Iraq remains a touchy subject. The Bush Administration insists there are sufficient troops in Iraq to do the job, but Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) both say the Administration underestimated the number of troops needed to properly police Iraq. Even if there are enough, keeping that many in Iraq for an extended time may be a bridge too far for the Army. * When the New York Times publishes a piece acknowledging an Iraq success story, the odds are there are many more that aren't seeing the light of day. Yet it's these stories that America needs to publicize, both to bolster support for the occupation at home and to demoralize the Ba'athists and Islamofascists in Iraq. Hat tip: Instapundit. * At the risk of sounding like a cliche, the terrorists got at least a small victory with the International Red Cross's decision to reduce staff in Baghdad after last week's bombing. Making life harder for the average Iraqi is exactly what the Islamofascists want, and while the Red Cross's concern is certainly merited, their decision is likely to harm the very people they claim to care about. * According to a number of formerly secret documents, Prime Minister Tony Blair was heavily involved in the decision to force David Kelly to testify before Parliament. Although this doesn't make Blair responsible for Kelly's suicide, there's little doubt his political opponents will try to paint it that way. That's a bad thing, as the U.S. badly needs Britain's help in Iraq. * The U.S. is looking for more troop support from the U.N., but even our good ally Australia appears to be running low on troops for Iraq. Australia says the U.S. hasn't formally asked for any more Aussie troops, but the reluctance of one of our best allies to help out raises serious doubts over our chances of gaining support from the U.N. * JK: Michael J. Totten, thoroughly Fisks NY Times writer Jessica Stern's attempt to place the blame for terror in Iraq on the United States' shoulders. Bravo. (Hat Tip: Vodkapundit) * JK:" Mystery writer Roger Simon notes that "...we never did find out where all that money went. You know, those gazillions in oil-for-food cash Kofi & Co. was supposedly administering but ended up lining a lot of pockets..." * Which "cards" have we captured so far? The CENTCOM list. And the visual version of "Ba'ath Poker." * The troops are still there. So is the Winds of Change.NET consolidated directory of ways you can support the troops. American, British and Australian. Anyone out there with more information, incl. the Poles and Czechs? [updated April 1, 2003] IRAN REPORTS * Iran is threatening Great Britain over the arrest of a former ambassador for the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994. It seems unlikely Iran would be willing to draw additional heat down on itself right now, but it's unwise to underestimate the foolishness of a government that is under as much pressure as the mullahs are. Though this is a minor incident in itself, it holds the potential to spur other, more significant problems. * Iran may sign a protocol that would return spent nuclear fuel to Russia, reducing the fears Iran could use the fuel to develop nuclear weapons. If this agreement is for real, perhaps Iran is less serious about nuclear weapons than the West fears; or perhaps they have other sources, and will use this agreement to distract Western intelligence long enough to complete their real program. * JK: Pejman has a link to an interesting CS Monitor article on corruption in the Iranian economy. * JK: Mehdi at FreeThoughts wondered what words an avid North American news reader would associate with Iran - so he wrote some scripts to find out (hey, we like this guy already!). The results are in... * Iranian officials are expected to release an official report on the death of Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi within 48 hours. Given the clear evidence she was beaten to death in Iranian custody, Iran's best chance of getting past this is to cut loose the officals directly linked to the beating. * Pakistan's Daily Times claims India is helping Iran join the nuclear club. Given Pakistan's history with India, this could well be simple paranoia; if not, it could mark a new flashpoint between the two nuclear nations. U.S.A. HOMELAND SECURITY BRIEFING * JK: Hawken Blog has an update on the Bombay Bombing, and Oxblog follows up with more. Big shout-out to Indus Watcher & Nitin in our comments section! * The cell phone networks may seem like an issue for telephone companies alone, but the experiences of 9/11 and the blackout indicate maintaining a robust cell phone system will play a major role in homeland security as well. I hate to think of the government getting involved in private industry, but perhaps a review and relaxation of regulations restraining cell companies might be in order. Hat tip: Instapundit. * Homeland security, or new pork program? The odds favor the latter, as the complaints continue that one place or another is being 'slighted' by the allocation of homeland defense funds. THE WIDER WAR * JK: Was Canada facing a 9/11 of its own? Tim Blair notes the arrest of 19 men who, among other things, were training to fly aircraft over an Ontario nuclear power plant. It will be months, if ever, before the facts on this one come out, but it's a chilling reminder that our enemies continue to seek ways to strike back at us. * Has Germany made Europeans the new cash cow for Islamofascists? The German government is refusing to comment on reports it paid in excess of $5 million to secure the release of 14 Europeans being held hostage in the Sahara. The Germans say a multinational force is being organized to hunt down the kidnappers, but if the force is only now being organized, any money that changed hands will be long gone even if the kidnappers are captured or killed. * The fighting in Afghanistan continues, as a Taliban ambush kills five Afghan soldiers and three Taliban guerillas. Until the training of the Afghan National Army is further along, the United States may need to spend more time helping to mop up the remnants of the Taliban before they can achieve a return to full-scale fighting there. * The Liberians are unhappy, as the small U.S. Marine detachment in Monrovia returned to their ships offshore. While the Marines are still easily able to respond to problems in Liberia, this pullout may be unwise, as the impression of abandonment could spark new violence. * One of North Korea's aces in the hole in its game of chicken is the many South Koreans who support reunification. That ace may be looking a little weak after South Korean demonstrations against the North's government. A small point in the United States's favor prior to Wednesday's talks. * As the talks over North Korea approach, Russia reports they are 'discretely optimistic' about them. Does this indicate Russia knows something about how much pressure China will bring to bear on North Korea? Or is Russia assuming the United States will cave in? Hu Jintao's warning to North Korea to halt their war preparations and nuclear program look like promising signs of the former. * A painful reminder that terrorism is hardly the sole province of Islamofascists: a bomb, possibly planted by FARC, exploded on a riverboat in Colombia, killing at least six. This may seem like no big deal, but the strong American support for the Colombian government means this attack could draw greater than expected attention from the U.S. government. * We try to close on a lighter note if possible. Cambodia has unveiled plans for a Khmer Rouge-ville theme park, giving tourists the opportunity to look at genocide from the inside. Tokyo Disneyland, watch out! Thanks for reading! If you found something here you want to blog about yourself (and we hope you do), all we ask is that you do as we do and offer a Hat Tip hyperlink to today's "Winds of War". If you think we missed something important, use the Comments section to let us know.

2 TrackBacks

Tracked: August 25, 2003 4:20 PM
Winds of War from Backcountry Conservative
Excerpt: Andrew Olmsted provides a roundup of war-related news....
Tracked: August 25, 2003 4:41 PM
Excerpt: Today's New York Times finally acknowledges that the UN is probably to blame for the security lapses that permitted this week's attack on the UN's headquarters in Baghdad. But the UN itself seems determined to avoid learning any lessons from the tragedy.


It's shame to see an Iraqi blogger considered "good" by the relatively mild sarcasm, cynicism and ingratitude.

I used to wonder if the Salams, Gs and Riverbends represented the best of the Near East until I ran across Iranians like Koorosh Afshar and others who - hold onto your hat - admire us, seek to be admired themselves and actually want to be friends.

Did you miss something important? How about the bombings in Bombay (interesting, as the international spotlight turns there, everyone forgets about the "Mumbai" name change)? Is this really a local issue (Guardian and BBC speculate it is related to an archaeological report due out about Ayodhya), or is the timing (so close to the Jerusalem and Baghdad car bombings) meant to imply a new front in the global jihad? Just why Indo-Muslims would want to piss off 3/4 billion Hindus and other non-Muslims is a question for the ages, but there it is.

So let's get speculating! My personal take is that this activity is too close in shape and timing to other recent events to be mere coincidence. Moreover, India and Pakistan have been making peace overtures to one another lately (ever an irritant to jihadis) and both countries have been drawing closer to the western/US-led political camp over the past year or two (also a very bad sign to Islamofascists). Could this also be a warning to New Delhi not to send badly needed troops to Iraq? You better believe it.

And while I HATE pedants as much as the next guy, I feel compelled to note that it's spelled "Colombia" not "Columbia." Thanks.

on the pakistan times article: the logic of india-iran security cooperation (even extending into the nuclear realm) is quite believable, especially when considered in light of recent iran-india joint naval exercises and rumors of iranian pasdaran elements involved in border exercises with elite indian troops. india seems to be acting based on exigencies vis-a-vis pakistan--a situation from which iran profits.

a "wildcard" here is the unclear US policy towards india, which may not be assuring enough (despite recently-resigned US amb. blackwill's attempts to make assurances) with respect to the pakistan threat to dissuade the indian leadership from seeking partnership with iran.

the bombay bombings will certainly be a wake-up call to the US to reconsider these "wildcard" effects.

How is this a news roundup without mentioning the awful terrorist bombing in India that has killed over 40 people.
We have a post at Hawken.

You need to have a "Printable" button to click to print out the roundup and read it.

Otherwise, its often too much to read on line and I would often like to read it over lunch.

Would be a smart move and appreciated.

Thanks. Good idea. You can, of course, just hit the "Direct link" button and print it... maybe that will be the core of our solution, a button that takes you there.

My question is, when you read it over lunch, what do you do about the links that interest you?

For the questions about India: that had not yet been reported when I compiled the data. I caught it this morning when I got home from PT, but Indus Watcher had already noted it.

And I'll watch my spelling of Colombia in the future.

The print idea is a good one. It would keep me from going to all the links which, at times, has me tied up for well over an hour of just reading the fascinating material. If I had a print out, I wouldn't be tempted!

What is good about the blog of Riverbend named "Baghdad burning"? Every post is a variation on "Life was great in Iraq until the Americans ruined everything". For her, certainly.

Not a reliable witness. And the arrogance on display is off-putting.


I believe she's exercizing her newfound freedom to express herself. Whether she appreciates it or not, we should.

Riverbend does write with some style, but it is sad to see her "Saddam was better" mentality. Sure, for her it was. Here in Japan too no doubt some people had it better under Tojo than under MacArthur.

Reading thru her blog, much of her rage is vented at the religious types who tell her what to wear and what she can and cannot do. This she throws on the Americans. Perhaps she's been watching a bit much of the BBC?

Christopher, I'm sure nearly every one of us is happy that Iraqis are free to speak their minds. In the course of expression, of course, they'll speak well and poorly of us.

America's two largest relations with the defeated Axis countries were very dynamic; the Germans and Japanese showed appreciation, curiousity, embarrassment, resentment, ambivalence, despair and thanksgiving in less than a decade of occupation. Political and personal interaction wasn't always friendly or constructive (to Daniel, indeed, reactionaries in the Diet fought MacArthur tooth and nail on many reforms).

And that was with the understanding of Axis nations' culpability for bringing the world into war. The Iraqi people, by and large, aren't guilty of anything; as select political and media forces goad them on to drive a hard bargain with the Allies, they will continue to show a much more independent, often confrontational spirit. Former Ba'athist beneficiaries will be among the most brazen.

Anticipating all that, it's still heartbreaking and frustrating to see someone misunderstand, convinced of their dislike for us.

What is your point, Christopher? Of course Riverbend can express herself, although I am not sure this freedom is as new to her as you think. And I can express my distrust of people who liked the old Iraq better. If they brought Saddam back tomorrow, there is nothing in this blog that would cause her any problems.

Really, she berates the Americans for disbanding the Army and the ministry of information? How much did the conscripted soldiers get paid anyway? Do they miss their officers?

For a proud Iraqi patriot, she expects very little from her countrymen. They need a "reason to get up every morning"? Well, if you want to keep hundreds of thousands of useless officers and bureaucrats in comfy jobs you will need a lot of oil money, so why donīt you help to stop your people from blowing up your pipelines? But helping the Americans (those 'Rambos') in any way is really beneath her. She is not a traitor to her class, I give her that.

I believe Riverbend expresses a common Iraqi mentality well. As a window into that mentality who can write well, yes, that's a worthwhile contribution to our understanding. Whether we like it is a different question.

Do the Iraqis need to take more responsibility? Yes. What Riverbend reinfiorced in my mind, though, is that you have a whole generation of people trained in the reverse of responsibility (because initiative could get you killed), confused because all past guides to action are gone and now what do we do?

Predictable, really, and it's good to have a few "temperature takers" in the blogosphere so we can follow the evolution (if any).

And I thought she had at least one good point:

I myself was more than a bit taken aback by the full army demobilization in Iraq. 400,000 people, with some military training, cut loose into an economically unstable situation where weapons were widely available even in Saddam's last months... it sounded to me like the ideal recipe for creating (a) mass banditry in the short term; and (b) a fantastic organized criminal class in the longer term.

I find it a bit hard to believe that was really the best alternative the USA could come up with.

They couldn't be allowed to remain armed, so the alternative Joe was to imprison them.

Unarmed worker brigades to help with reconstruction? There are precedents for this, most notably 1930s Germany in its pre-armament period. And if they have to help lay phone cables, etc., they might start to get rather protective of them....

Or maybe point defense for hard to protect infrastructure targets in remote areas, or based away from their home areas, and backed by mobile US reinforcements?

And maybe there's even a good case for what was done vs. the alternatives. I just never saw the explanation of why (can't be debating every point, but should be explaining the big ones), and I'm pretty sure the Iraqis didn't either. So of course this will generate confusion.

I think the biggest reason for what was "done" was that the Iraqis did it themselves. The army melted back to their homes. Few formations surrendered as formations. Rounding them back up into formations would have been too much like ... rounding them up.

But weren't some elements of the army still cohesive enough to mount organized demonstrations that then led to the CPA's demob payment program? Thus, I don't think we can fully dismiss questions about alternatives to fully cutting loose the army by saying the organization had completely melted away.

Historical footnote: as a contrast to Joe's example of interwar Germany there is interwar Bulgaria: Treaty of Neuilly dictated that Bulgaria scale back army from 700,000 to 33,000, leading "disaffected officers [to] establish a conspiratorial group" that would align with opposition groups that would undermine and eventually overthrow the gov't in the 1923 coup (ref. Glenny's "The Balkans", p.398). This began a spiral of violence between various parties. Lesson: Disaffected demobs can be a threat to political and economic order. They will probably remain below the surface so long as there is someone to effectively deter them. But such deterrence is not easy to establish.

Wasnīt this a conscript army, except for the guard officers who are most opposed to our project, and many of whom were appointed based on political and tribal affiliations?

This is just my uneducated guess, but most of the conscripts surely wanted to leave and did. Pay, decent treatment and a worthy assignment might have convinced many of them to stay voluntarily, but probably not under their previous officers. The divides in Iraqi society that Riverbendīs blog inadvertently exposes, exist in the army as well. I donīt think the officer class is either professional or representative, and many of them are not used to working with their hands either. And screening them would have taken months anyway, given the language problem (and it would have been another insult to Riverbend, letīs not forget that). For the same reason, you cannot just put Americans in charge.

So you need to establish a new organisation and chain of command, which I think is what the U.S. is trying to do right now.

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