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?

Women Sex Sexism Feminism And blogging

So what is a woman weblogger, anyway? The blogosphere had a discussion about that very topic last year, and it got a bit contentious. We never really settled the matter. So let’s try again.
I’m a woman with a weblog. Who am I?
I am a conservative Republican. I am a liberal former San Franciscan who can program with the best of the boys (if not better!). I am a libertarian who writes about economics. I wrote the first book about weblogs. I am a bellicose woman. I am an Israeli mother of two. I’m an American with an attitude who buys CDs for the troops and runs a weblog about the war. I’m an editor in New York. I’m a former military woman with a daughter in the military now. I rant. I advise. I lecture. I educate. I shoot. It’s about sex (sometimes). It’s about Canada. It’s about Jewish issues. It’s about libraries. It’s about animals and babies. It’s about me.
I write about women’s issues. I write about men’s issues. I write about politics. I write about comic book heroes. I write about issues that interest me, period. (No, that doesn’t interest me, that generally pains me about once every 28 days. I can hear the ewws from the guys in the back. Oh, stop.)
So what does it mean to be a woman with a weblog? Well, it means that I’m a woman, and I write a weblog. I don’t believe that issues are necessarily gender-specific,and I certainly don’t stop to wonder if I’m shooting for a male or female audience when I sit down to write an essay. I just write them, and assume that the audience will sort itself out. Judging by the email I get, it’s pretty evenly distributed.
I can tell you what generates the most interest: Sex. That’s the absolutely, without a doubt, catch-’em-all topic that nobody seems to ever get enough of. Alas, I rarely write about sex, or my hit count would be two or three times its current size. (I think there’s a euphemism in there, but I’m going to steer very clear of it.)
So what’s the upshot? Is there sexism out there? Absolutely. Does it stop me from doing what I want? Sometimes. Does it stop me in the blogosphere? Nope. Does it affect the blogosphere? Yep. A lot? Not really. Will I name names? No. Will I get posts and letters refuting this claim? Undoubtedly.
And one last thing, since this is the first in a series of women writing about women: I am a feminist, and proud to say so.
Let the debate recommence.
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Women. Sex. Sexism. Feminism.
It was nice to read and figure out what you think…well one thought American people didnt care much about rest of the world..perhaps that is changing, although it is still about stuff that is right under your nose….
Coming to terms with relationships..that is the least area of interst looks like. Why are we interested in sex and not relations….
because it is easier to have sex than sustain a relation..you know then I have to be concerned about your period and not stay away at work those five ( or three ) days ).
It is easier to have no commitment..well nothing different for wemen either and it is catching up..the instant fun thing that does not call for commitment..because remember making and keeping commitment is harder that having sex..not love…not love and sex but only sex…well there you are and the world is catching up..Indian news magazine Outlook ran a cover story on how Indian wemen are going for affairs in search of exciting sex…well you get the drift
To link or, not to link, how do you answer that question?

I’m a guy, Kiril’s the name.
I’m a blogger, Sneakeasy’s Joint is the place.
Have been for a year, now, and have started a 2nd, issue oriented one, as well (The Cycling Dude).
The posts connected with this piece, and this piece itself, have gotten me to thinking a bit about who I link to and why?
My links include a few of the Big Bloggers, amidst, those who have linked to me, and also blogs who don’t link to me, but I find interesting as well.(women bloggers, included).
I don’t have the time to read everything in the bloggerverse, and that’s one reason my Links List is so small.
I have begun to wonder whether MY linking to the Big Boys, unless I do so in a post for a particular reason, is even neccesary.
Anyone who blogs, or just does a Google search knows about these folks, or will discover them.
Heck, a few even make the rounds of the TV Talk Fests.
They don’t need me to spread the word about them.
The ordinary Blogger, like myself, would benefit more from a spot in my Links List, and I would benefit just as much by reading them.

SOMETHING HAS HAPPENED TO SOMEONE

I emailed Salam the link about Uday having a brain hemorrhage. He wrote me back:

the absolute biggest best most wanted brain-stuff-specialist (i am sure it has a name can’t think of it now) [has been called] and taken to a location outside baghdad, he called his family and said he can’t come back tonight.

something has happened to someone.

I emailed him asking whether he wanted to blog this but he hasn’t blogged anything and he hasn’t written me back so in the interests of info flow I am blogging it.

He also writes that he is nervous about the B-52s

IS SALAM PAX REAL?

Yesterday I received an email from Paul Boutin of Slate, asking me to call him, to discuss whether Salam Pax is a real person. I fully understand why journalists have to be skeptical. There’s a ton of liars out there, and the Internet is the perfect vehicle for con artists.

This morning I received several emails asking me the same thing: is Salam for real?

Full disclosure: I have a tendency to judge things and people immediately, and then to draw back. I immediately felt that Salam was for real. But…after that, I had my doubts. I never thought that he was a CIA front. Would the CIA have been clever enough to think up a hip dude who speaks quite good English and German?

I went though a period suspecting that he was a Mossad agent. Really. When I rejected that theory, I suspected that he was a Lebanese in London with an intimate familiarity of Baghdad, having a fine old time at my and other people’s expense. I pictured him and his friends posting this stuff from London, laughing uproariously at the stupidity of those gullible Americans. I’ve had my doubts, so I can’t blame anyone else for having them.

But over the past six or so months that we’ve been corresponding, my doubts have evaporated. Completely. OK, there’s a chance this could be a hoax but I’m willing to look like an asshole and say that my doubts have totally evaporated.

I expressed this to Paul and gave him several reasons:

1. He sent me something from Iraq. I did not save the outer envelope. I did keep it for some weeks but in the end, I decided to toss it. I don’t read Arabic, so I can’t prove that it came from Baghdad. Even if I had kept it, and even if I could get an Arabic speaker to verify that it came from Iraq, would the hardcore skeptics believe that it was sent by Salam?

2. Salam and I exchanged numerous emails about the history of the Jews in pre-1948 Iraq. He told me that in the Iraq in which he grew up, they were never spoken of, nor referred to in textbooks. He showed curiosity, so I gave in him info about where the surviving synagogue is. He wrote to me with details about their former residences which I know to be true from other accounts. I wasn’t tricking Salam into telling me things I already knew to test his truthfulness, I was letting him tell his story and each time he did, I became more convinced he was telling me the raw truth, of someone who knew he had been lied to about an important part of his country’s history and who was trying to comprehend it. Did you ever see the movie, The Nasty Girl?. It’s like that…only in this case, Hitler’s still alive.

3. Here’s the kicker. In December of last year, there was a sickening attack in Israel, within the “Green Line.” This was upclose and personal sadism, not the impersonal desperation of the suicide attacks. Not to go easy on those, but to my sensibilities, this was much worse. I was literally sick about this for three days and I think a tight-lipped hostility seeped through. He could have taken it personally but didn’t. He wrote me a very gentle reply. He signed his family name. (Which I won’t write here. Obviously.) I was very touched.

The blogosphere has been pretty hard on Arabs and I have chimed right in. One of the things that us Yank-bloggers have had the most sport with is the fact that, Arabs have an “honor-shame” culture. This is supposed to be alternately risible and terrible, especially juxtaposed with our Western, rational-fact-based-transactional-impersonal culture. I mean, they’ve got narghilas, we’ve got cruise missiles, which culture is superior?*

I think that human beings are more than the sum of their parts, and that all societies are more-or-less composed of all these qualities. In any case, I have a big honor deal going on in my own life. I experienced the 9/11 attack as (among other things), a huge diss. Our honor was impugned. We had to avenge our honor to be whole again.

So, when Salam responded to me as he did on that occasion, giving me his full name, he was saying, “Here. I extend my sympathies, on my honor, with my family name.”

I don’t need any more proof than that.

Satisfied?

I have misgivings about writing this. Salam wrote me he expected to end up one day as “pasta sauce.” I would not want to endanger his life in any way, and feel that I may be contributing to it. But…he’s continuing to blog away, so I feel that I must vouch for what I feel is true, even if I don’t know it.

Blog on Salam! One day, I’ll take that drive from Jerusalem to Baghdad and buy 1,000 tiles!!

Now, if only I had a nice, big kitchen to line them with. I hear that land is cheap in Baghdad.