Dispatches > The Buzz


Issue: "Soldiers in harm’s way," Nov. 15, 2003

Saddam's Somalia strategy?

Some leftist bloggers are attempting to label combatants in Iraq as "insurgents" instead of "terrorists" as long as they target soldiers. Jeff Jarvis (buzzmachine.com) respectfully disagrees: "People imported from another country to wage battle and raise mayhem for the sake of trying to disrupt the civil order and population in the supposed aim of a sick cause are terrorists. Fits in my dictionary. But by your definition, boys, just because the September 11th murderers killed some soldiers at the Pentagon, they're not terrorists but 'insurgents'?"

Andrew Sullivan (andrewsullivan.com) pointed out that Somalia, not Vietnam, is the proper comparison to the present Iraqi conflict: "Saddam always relied on the Somalia strategy. He believed-and probably still does-that the U.S. does not have the guts to stick this out and wear down the Sunni dead-enders now combined with Islamist terrorists. He planned on this kind of war of attrition from the minute he knew he was militarily finished.... The slow collapse of American credibility in the 1990s will take time to reverse.... Saddam and what he still represents must fail in full view of the world. And we have an irreplaceable opportunity to see it happen."

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Teaching methods

Bloggers aren't ones to win graciously, so it came as no surprise to see Joshua Claybourn (joshuaclaybourn.com/blog) crowing over reports that the Bush administration is rethinking its steel tariff policy. Mr. Claybourn: "When Bush first started pushing this anti-free trade agenda, I vehemently criticized it as a slap in the face to proven free-market principles. Many Republicans ran to his defense.... But as I argued then, and as I've now been proven right ... [a steel tariff crushes] economic growth and thereby destroys mythical political value as well."

Stats show the downside of economic protectionism, but people learn in other ways as well. Joanne Jacobs, on her excellent education blog joannejacobs.com, relays this story (which came via the SCSU Scholars and Wicked Thoughts blogs) about "a private school where senior girls were kissing the restroom mirror after putting on lipstick, leaving prints that had to be cleaned every night. Finally, the principal called the girls to the restroom. To demonstrate how difficult it had been to clean the mirrors, she asked the maintenance man to show the girls how much effort was required. He took out a long-handled squeegee, dipped it in the toilet, and cleaned the mirror with it. Since then, there have been no lip prints on the mirror."

The tale concludes, "There are teachers, and then there are educators."

Clash of civilizations

Zell Miller isn't the only Democrat renouncing party ties and favoring a second term for President Bush: Lifelong Democrat Roger Simon (rogerlsimon.com) also announced, "If the election were held today ... I would vote for George W. Bush without a second's hesitation. That's how bad I think the Democrats are on foreign policy, by far the most important issue of our day." Too bad Mr. Simon didn't go into more detail about why the Democratic hopefuls disgust him. Oh wait, there's more: "They're acting like we're still in Vietnam when we're in a real war of civilizations. We're on the right side this time. Haven't they seen the videotapes of Baathists chopping their own countrymen's heads off and pushing them off roofs?"

The Democratic National Committee fought back by unveiling its new blog and naming it "Kicking Ass" (democrats.org/blog). The DNC site has this to say about CBS's decision to pull its Reagan miniseries: "No, there are no First Amendment violations here. The RNC [Republican National Committee] protested the content of a program, which is its right, and CBS voluntarily pulled that program off the air, which is its right." But the next paragraph of the blog falls into paranoia: "The decision makes it very easy to imagine a future where representatives for the Bush administration have the power to disapprove of any content that touches politics, policy, or history-including news programs." James Taranto (opinionjournal.com/best) wrote of the blog's comment section: "Next time you find yourself wondering why Howard Dean and Wesley Clark and John Kerry say such crazy things, just remember that these guys are their constituents."


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