Dispatches > The Buzz

Blog Watch

Buzz from online journals, including www.worldmagblog.com

Issue: "Memorial Day 2004," May 29, 2004

Problem or solution?

After two U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq with a sarin gas artillery shell, J.P. Carter (evangelicaloutpost.com) called for a revisitation of the WMD debate: "That even one artillery shell containing sarin is missing should be cause for concern. Sarin, which is often referred to as the poor man's atomic bomb, is one of the most deadly chemicals in existence. It is 500 times as toxic as cyanide and more deadly than mustard gas. All it takes is one hundred milligrams of the nerve agent-about one drop-to kill the average person in a matter of minutes...."

Liberals and conservatives are each waving their reports from Iraq. Joshua Micah Marshall (talkingpoinstmemo.

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com) quoted a pessimistic contractor: "Americans are essentially not welcome anymore.... No one sees [the Americans] as part of the solution anymore but as a foreign entity that does as it likes." Mr. Marshall's source emphasized domestic troubles like "the bad electricity (3 hours on, three hours off) the major dysentery outbreak in the tap water this week (all of us have been ill due to our cook's washing with tap water) and the inability to drive down the street without having a Humvee point rifles at you (or worse yet explode next to you)."

But "Mohammed," posting on "Iraq the Model" (iraqthe model.blogspot.com) described the transformation of ugly walls surrounding a military base: "The coalition forces here invited all the kids-and their parents -in the neighborhood for a special festival, the kids were given paints and brushes and a definite area of the wall was assigned for each kid to paint on whatever he likes and to sign his painting with his/her name. I leave it for you to imagine how this hateful wall looked like after this festival. It became a fascinating huge painting that gives a feeling of brotherhood and friendship."

Historical repetition

Liberals and conservatives are also making differing predictions about domestic politics. Joshua Micah Marshall told fellow liberals not to worry about the Kerry campaign's inability to pull ahead of President Bush despite the constant attacks on the president: "Kerry hasn't even been officially nominated yet. He doesn't have a running mate. And the intensity of the news cycle makes it hard for him to get too much face time with the American people.... I don't think this is a bad thing. At least not for now."

But James Taranto (opinion journal.com/best) is optimistic about GOP prospects for historical reasons: "Between 1972 and 1996, six incumbent presidents sought re-election. Three of them-Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton-were polarizing figures, intensely loathed ... by partisans on the other side, but solidly supported by their own party. All three won. The other three-Ford, Carter, and the elder Bush-spurred much more tepid opposition from the other party.... But all three faced challenges for their own party nod, and Carter and Bush saw third-party candidates drain away their support in November. All three lost. Bush is clearly in the Nixon-Reagan-Clinton mold rather than the Ford-Carter-Bush one."

Long-term damage

The news that U.S. forces were being shifted from South Korea to Iraq slipped under some media radar, but bloggers were all over it. Phil Carter (philcarter .blogspot.com), a military expert, noted that "The force in Korea has been considered untouchable by Army planners for a long time.... The redeployment of this brigade means a lot less combat power (in terms of boots on the ground) for any crisis in Korea." This news, combined with other reports of military thinness worries Mr. Carter: "The force is stretched, and it's starting to take very drastic steps to make ends meet in Iraq. Will it make the mission? Yes, no question. But the cost will be very high, and ultimately, I think we're going to end up doing a lot of long-term damage to our national military capability."


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