Saturday, May 17, 2003
"After over a month of looking, Coalition forces have not come up with the WMD smoking gun yet. There are many possible reasons why. Saddam, after 20 years of practice, has become a master of disbursing and hiding things and it will take some time to root his WMD program out. Alternatively, it is possible that just before we invaded, large portions of Iraq's WMD program were sent to Syria for safekeeping. The nightmare scenario though, particularly for those who justified the war in terms of finding WMDs, is that WMDs do not exist and have not since the end of Gulf War I. Unfortunately, with every day that passes, that possibility looms larger.
It is likely that if Saddam no longer had a WMD program he did not know it. Why else would he endure over a decade of crippling sanctions? If Saddam had ended his quest for WMDs, it would have been in his best interest to open the doors wide and let the world see. By playing as the model citizen he would have regained control of his oil wealth and quickly been able to make Iraq a regional superpower again.
Instead, his henchmen did everything possible to obfuscate the true WMD picture and to thwart any inspection teams. If they had nothing to hide, they sure worked hard at trying to hide it. What if they were not just hiding a possible WMD program from inspectors, but also hiding from Saddam the fact that no such program existed?
Outlandish? Maybe not. Consider, for instance, that a WMD program is expensive. It has already been proven that the Saddam regime was siphoning off billions of dollars through black-market oil deals and other under-the-table methods. However, there were numerous claims on these funds. Buying the loyalty of the Republican Guard and Special Republican Guard did not come cheap. Just trying to keep the military in good enough order to crush internal revolts was already prohibitively expensive. Throw in the cost of presidential palaces, reconstructing Babylon, paying off Bath-party loyalists, and it is not long before you would be scraping for nickels. Iraq was not even able to find money and parts to maintain oil-production levels. The golden goose was dying."
It's pretty incredible that not much has been turned up, though the extensiveness of uninhabited portions of Iraq still offers a lot of places to look. And I find the thesis a problematic one - the main objection has to be that SH needs to be shown something that looks like a weapons programme for it to work. The mobile labs that have been found would be part of that. And once "hidden" a fake lab wouldn't necessarily be detectable. But it's far too smoke and mirrors for me...
Via Andrew Sullivan
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
"Penny Hollings, NUS National Secretary said "Abolishing tuition fees removes a financial barrier that deters many from going to university and that can only be a good thing. However this should not be offset by cutting costs in other areas just to court votes and score political points.... The Conservative Party must not undermine their own policy by replacing financial barriers with barriers to access.” "
Or, as the position will be phrased on the demos
"Whatever we want is a right
Is a right
Is a right
Whatever we want is a right, not a priviledge"
(to the tune of Pop goes the Weasel).
Essentially, the NUS position is this - any proportion of the population, doing degrees of whatever value to the country, studying in whatever area of the country they like, for however long, should be funded, in full, by the public purse.
Amazing a Union might view expanding higher education places (reducing resources per capita, but giving them more constituents) as being as important as improving the lot of its members...
"In one of the best-attended lectures of the year so far, hundreds of undergraduates crowded into a lecture room for “Russian Mafia-Manufactured Paedo-Porn-Pop Duo? The Odd Provenance of t.A.T.u.” Now the lecture is to go on a worldwide tour.
David MacFadyen, the Associate Professor of Russian at the University of California, Los Angeles, illustrated the lecture with clips of the girls, Lena Kalina, 17, and Julia Volkova, 18, performing a kissing scene in the video for their song All The Things She Said and with images of the girls naked together in a bath. He also used tracks from their new album."
Still I suppose most things beat a lecture series on Berkley...
"Deposing Saddam hasn't brought any of the people you say he killed back to life. It's not liberation, it's occupation."
(OK, that's cheating - the signs around my way already say the second part, and add "Who's next?". The temptation to add a name a day....)
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Monday, May 12, 2003
"Yes there is. I think it’s obvious by now I am possessed by an anal-retentive demon. (I don’t know his name. Feyligsungur, perhaps.) And it gets worse: I am somewhat anal-retentive myself, but in a different way. Hence our conversations are excruciating. I look at the bookshelf, and I hear him. His voice is soft and insinuating, with a gravely note of menace.
Rearrange the books, whispers a voice in my head. Rearrange them by height.
I drive my fists into my temples. No! They have to be ordered by genre, author, and date!
But that looks so ugly. So rough. So . . . random and unplanned. Order them by height. Do it. Do it now.
I won’t! I won’t! Leave me alone or I’ll turn the spines towards the wall!
He usually goes away for a while then.
[Lileks annoys the demon]
(I hear the sound downstairs of everything being moved around in the kitchen cabinets, of olive oils being rearranged with no regard to level of purity, cans reordered in such a way that their expiration dates cannot be inferred by visual inspection)"
(reminded of this by CS&W (link below)
"She says her position was made impossible because the draft new UN resolution now being discussed at the Security Council does not give the UN its promised central role in rebuilding Iraq.
She called the UK's position "totally dishonourable".
"I cannot defend it. It is wrong in international law and for the rebuilding of Iraq and it breaches the promises that the prime minister gave to me," she told BBC News."
So. It's fine to go to war without a clear UN resolution in favour (which, arguably, might not have been enough anyway). But it's not fine for the UN to be kept out of the running of relief operations. Bonus.
We go to war in Zimbabwe, and clearing up is the UN's problems. Nuke North Korea, and let the UN sort out the rest. Who needs to care about Chinese expansionism - the UN need to get in and sort out SARS anyway - send the marines.
What a crazy position to take.