ZIPPER IT

Go to church, go to synagogue, go to a mosque, go to a Buddhist, Sikh, Shintoist or Jain temple, make a puja, light a candle, say a prayer, if atheist contribute to a non-denominational charity, but please, spare me the requests to pass on e-mails to him. Don’t you think that Salam has better things to do than to read your e-mails?

THE BIGTIME

Well, Salam hit the bigtime today, with a mention in Howard Kurtz’s media column in WaPo. Maybe after this is all over he can do Oprah. (“I cannot believe what it must have been like during those bombings,” said Oprah, shaking her head deliberately from side to side, while checking the effect her vehemence had on the audience with a quick sidewise dart of her eyes. “Girlfriend, I would have been under that bed the whole time!”)

I have not heard from him, and as soon as I do I will post it.

I am debating whether I should shlep my computer to Queens today. God it is gorgeous out and I’ve a lot to do; I’ve decided to visit my mother at the end of the day and spend the night in her house. (For those of you new to this blog, I live in Manhattan; my mother is at the end of a long journey and is now in a nursing home near where I grew up in Queens, but will be moved upstate soon, so I want to see her as much as possible, because I may never see her again. Life and death go on, even during a war.) There’s a seductive beauty in the idea of being Cut Off, but I’m not sure I can take that….

I’ve received a lot of emails, some of them quite interesting. A man from Flanders, Belgium wrote to say that Salam was featured in a newspaper article there. I asked him to send a translation and will post it if/when he does.

Someone wrote to tell me that my defense of Salam was so vigorous that people might suspect me of being part of a CIA hoax. He said that he was writing to warn me of that, in case it happens. Thanks, she said, backing away very slowly. Slam!

Several people have written about the issue that will not go away, you know what that is. One woman was such a vicious pest that I had to block her from my box, although I wonder if she will try to get around it. It’s easy enough.

And Carolyn (one of the Evergreen alumnas) wrote offering a link to a truly interesting analysis of “the issue that will not go away” — written by her husband. She’s partisan; I’m not. Her husband wrote the best I’ve read so far, and what’s so interesting is that this blogger is not part of the defend-Israel reciprocal link family. He came to some of the same conclusions that they did about the likely sequence of events. (The link is to the blog; scroll down and look for the word Evergreen.)

I’ve got to sign off now but his post got me to thinking…and stimulated some ideas. I have to write them down later, I haven’t got the time now. But my feelings are, surprisingly, more critical of Israel than you might think. Stay tuned. Later.

Through Grasshoppa, another Kuwaiti website.

If you email me, and you want me to read past the first line, do not say that the Jews are behaving like Hitler and do not say, “I find your blog interesting, because you seem to be an intelligent person who has somehow been cowed into believing what our President is telling you.” That deserves an immediate delete. However, being the curious sort, I did scan the rest of what he had to say, and it was pure and utter horseshit. But if you want me to read you, don’t insult me in the lead paragraph.

SOLDIERS DIE CONTINUED

OK, OK, I said I wouldn’t post anymore about Rachel Corrie, but a reader sent me this link, which describes the disreputable actions of one “General” Thom Saffold, a 51-year-old clergytwerp who probably spends most of his life salivating over photos of Palestinian victims of Israeli “genocide.” I’m sure Israeli “genocide” gives him a quite a perverse thrill.

CONSIDER THE SOURCE

Iraq’s Saddam Husayn prepares to liquidate opponents in his government who oppose having Saddam’s son Qusay succeed the dictator in ruling Iraq, revealed here Thursday 30 August an Iraqi opposition group.

The group, named Islamic Unity Movement of Iraq, told Kuwait news agency (Kuna) that sources close to the Iraqi government said Saddam is preparing a list of political leaders, ministers and other government officials who are known to be against installing Saddam’s son Qusay as his father’s successor in power. These opponents will be removed from their positions, said the Iraqi opposition group. Saddam has lately been grooming Qusay for his future role as the new dictator of Iraq by appointing him in different high-ranking government posts, the group said, adding that indications are that Saddam’s elder son, Uday, suffering a physical disability from an assassination attempt on his life, has fallen into disfavour as a possible successor to his father.

Perhaps a sign that the liquidation process has begun was the sentencing of Prime Minister Tariq Aziz’s son, Ziyad, accused of irregular financial dealings, to 22 years in prison, said the group. This move against Tariq Aziz’s interests may have come because Aziz spoke negatively of Qusay’s inadequacy as a fit successor in power to Saddam, the opposition group surmised.

THE SUM OF MY FEARS

As I have made clear, I think that most of the so-called war reporting is platinum-plated crapola. I think that Coalition forces are doing as well as can be expected and that reports that the “plan” is being disrupted are bluffing and balderdash.

But…Mark Bowden has expressed a legitimate nightmare scenario that has occurred to me, down to its nth particulars.

Somebody, please, tell me that this won’t happen, because I think that it can. There are just too many people in B’dad that have too much invested in the regime for this not to be possible.

H1 H2 H3

I just heard a mention of the “H3” oilfield on some news bulletin. This brings back memories of Gulf I, when I heard about H1, H2, H3…pumping stations, oilfields, whatever.

Curious, I looked up what the “H” stood for and was astonished to find that it meant “Haifa.”

I’ve posted this article, King Ghazi opens pipeline which appeared in the Guardian in 1935 (!) before, but I’d like to post it again. There’s something about it that I find haunting. End of empire, and all that. All things must pass.

A fleet of specially chartered aeroplanes carried guests over the 150-mile journey from Bagdad to Kirkuk for the opening ceremony of the 1,200 mile pipe-line from the oilfields here to Haifa, Palestine, which was performed by King Ghazi this morning.

King Ghazi spoke in both English and Arabic just before opening the tap which started the oil flowing on its long journey to the coast. He emphasised the importance of friendly co-operation between the company operating the pipe-line and his Government.

From Kirkuk a double line takes the oil across the bed of the Tigris and the Euphrates to Hadithe, a distance of 156 miles. Thence the line forks, one great steel tube stretching out through Syria and the Lebanon to its northern terminus at Tripoli and the other crossing the rocky volcanic stretches of the Transjordan to Palestine and its southern terminal at Haifa.

Sixteen countries, including Britain, have taken part in the construction of this great line, which was built by the Iraq Petroleum Company. It is estimated that 4,000,000 tons of oil will ultimately be sent down every year.

BARBARA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT

I first heard the name Barbara Bodine while watching the Frontline documentary, The Man Who Knew Too Much.

At the time I had no interest in her, and most of my interest in the story of maverick FBI agent John O’Neill hinged on the Ramzi Yousef angle. (The real identity of Ramzi Yousef and whether he was part of al Qaida continues to fascinate and intrigue me.) But now that her name is in the air again, I refreshed my memory.

I didn’t get a very good impression of her from the Frontline documentary. She struck me as behaving more like an employee of the Government of Yemen, than a member of the US diplomatic corps:

FRONTLINE recounts a heated political battle over the investigation of the bombing of the USS Cole. Former government officials recount how O’Neill’s desire to show the Yemeni security forces–which he viewed as being less than cooperative–that the FBI meant business angered U.S. Ambassador Barbara Bodine–so much so, that when O’Neill made a brief trip home to New York for Thanksgiving, Bodine denied his visa, preventing him from returning to the investigation.

“John was upset,” says Barry Mawn, O’Neill’s supervisor at the FBI’s New York office. “[Bodine] was badmouthing him; she caused a stir at headquarters. I actually think John was more disappointed that our headquarters didn’t back us as far as sending him back.”

The maker of the documentary discusses Bodine’s “contributions” here.

Anyone who rises as far as Bodine did in the diplomatic corps has to be an nasty infighter , slippery eel and a good liar. O’Neill didn’t stand a chance against this accomplished practitioner of diplomatic chicanery.

The decision to put Bodine in charge of the Baghdad sector – if true — strikes me as an almost laughable misunderstanding of Iraqi society. It would have to have been hatched in the deepest bowels of the Near East desk of the State Department, where attitudes towards Arabs range from mildly besotted to purple passion. They probably think that the Baghdad area is sophisticated and cosmopolitan, and that the residents would be grateful to have an old hand in the region with a pronounced affection for Arabs. They couldn’t be more wrong, but what else is new for our State Department?

Good news from Afghanistan

The day Taliban soldiers fled this capital, Sabir Latifa had $9,000 in savings from his dried fruit exports and a head filled with ideas about how to do business in a changed Afghanistan.
He started small by fixing up some guesthouses for the journalists and aid workers who flocked to Kabul when the Taliban left in November 2001. Then he branched into cars and a hotel and the capital’s first private Internet cafe. Fifteen months later, Latifa has a business empire he says is worth $500,000, and he hopes to build a water bottling plant, more hotels outside Kabul, a computer store and even a chain of Internet cafes around the country.

this is heartening too –
In a city that had a handful of shopworn eating places two years ago, a new Chinese or Italian or American hamburger restaurant opens almost weekly, as well as kebab shops by the score. Small hotels have sprung up, and a $40 million Hyatt is on the way. The food bazaars are bustling and there are downtown blocks filled almost entirely with bridal shops. Rebuilt homes are rising from the ruins, and every little storefront seems to be stuffed with bathtubs or fans or with men building and carving things to be sold.
And this was really cool –
Shair Bar Hakemy, the business adviser to Karzai and himself a refugee turned entrepreneur who made a fortune in Texas commercial real estate and hotels, said that the price of real estate in some parts of Kabul is now higher per square foot than in downtown Dallas. “My family and friends back in America have difficulty seeing past all the headlines about troubles here,” he said. “But the truth is that Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan are changing quickly for the better.”

SALAM’S BLOG

A reader writes: “I see the current entries on Salam’s blog using Mozilla. With IE, it forwards to the Feb posting. There is a recent post.”

I’ve gotten a bunch of emails telling me that Salam’s blog is down, or that they are having problems accessing it. I had no problems, so I disregarded the emails. But now there does seem to be a problem. I keep getting referred to an entry in February. I have NO idea why that’s happening.

Civax created this mirror site. Not sure whether this reflects new entries, if there are new entries, but it is the best we can do under the circumstances. Civax has contact info on his blog; email him with questions. He seems to be a computer expert, or at the very least, technically adept. (Anyone’s more technically adept than I am.)

I cannot not not not get over the irony of this war and how we are all communicating with one another. I am a sort-of-hawk (at least, conditionally pro-war), and I am communicating with a Baghdadi from New York City; an Israeli puts up a mirror site for this Iraqi; the guy in Baghdad wishes an Israeli woman and her family well while he is about to be shocked and awed by my country’s unparalleled ability to wage war; she puts up a website from the IDF Home Command for him to download a PDF survival guide in Arabic.

The wrong people are running the world but that’s nothing new, is it?