Alexander's Column

Where's Waldo?

By Mark Alexander · Mar. 28, 2003

President George Bush summed up this week’s progress with “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” the current war-front with Jihadistan: “Saddam Hussein is losing control of his country. We’re slowly, but surely, making progress, but it is evident that this war is in the early phases, and this is just the beginning of a tough fight.”

Allied military forces have already driven 300 miles into Iraq, in blistering weather conditions, and they are preparing to challenge the capital city of Baghdad. The air campaign has significantly degraded the command and control of the Iraqi military forces. Oil wells and pipeline facilities have been protected, as Iraqi soldiers were able to set only a handful of oil wells ablaze and were prevented from opening the pipeline spigots to empty a catastrophic oil spill into the Persian Gulf. Humanitarian aid, water and food rations are already flowing to the Shiite Iraqis in the south of the country, and 1,000 fighters from the 173rd Airborne Brigade parachuted into the Kurdish region Wednesday night, giving teeth to the northern front in the military campaign – now 100,000 Kurds strong.

Military commanders are altering tactics to deal with the irregular forces led by the Fedayeen Saddam, which might best be characterized as a guerrilla-terrorist force. Marine Lt. Col. B.T. McCoy described our new emphasis on taking the fight to these brutes: “We’re going into a hunting mode right now.”

Notable among the early war successes has been neutralizing the command centers for operational control of chemical weapons, lest those be unleashed on coalition troops. During the initial hours of the war, U.S. and Australian special operations forces fanned out across Iraq to seize posts where intelligence reports pointed to commanders with authority to order chemical weapons strikes.

You will recall that head UN weapons inspector Hans Blix nattered on that he expected Saddam Hussein would not deploy chemical weapons out of fear of international public disapproval. We doubt the Iraqi regime’s fear of public disapproval. What such fear causes them to kill Basra citizens who are simply trying to escape the war zone? What fear kept them from executing some of our POWs and displaying their corps on Arab TV network, Al-Jazeera? More likely, Saddam has yet to use chemical weapons because most of his chem-warfare commanders were taken out in the first 48 hours of the war.

(A footnote: Al-Jazeera’s Internet site was hacked yesterday. Visitors to their Website were diverted to a page with a U.S. flag and the message “Let Freedom Ring.”)

Coalition troops found chemical protective gear at many locations. When coalition forces liberated a hospital in An Nasiriya, they discovered 3,000 chemical suits and antidotes for chemical and biological WMD. Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks noted at a CENTCOM briefing: “What we found at the hospital reinforces our concern. We are well-prepared to deal with the potential use of chemical weapons.”

We estimate that Saddam is still in charge of what is left of his command-and-control infrastructure, and our troops will meet stiff resistance in Baghdad and suffer many casualties before achieving their objective. Saddam’s long reign of terror inside his country has left few alive willing to confront him – until he and his sons are dead and their bodies placed on public display. It may take weeks to subdue Saddam’s Republican Guard, and then many months to institute stability – months that will be peppered with terrorist attacks against our military posts in Baghdad.

The administration’s optimism is guarded and measured – as it has been all through the planning of this military campaign. As The Federalist noted at the onset of hostilities last week: “Despite early campaign success, President Bush and his commanders know the current Iraqi campaign is a perilous minefield that could cost many more American lives. Extreme dangers lie ahead in this campaign.”

While the 24-hour news cycles and print media are consumed with mostly mindless minutiae, The Federalist’s editors remain focussed on our macro-objective – defending our nation against Jihadi terrorists and their state sponsors – as outlined by the President in the last two months: “Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror – the gravest danger facing America and the world – is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. … Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations, and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. … It would take just one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. … Saddam Hussein and his weapons are a direct threat to this country, to our people, and to all free people.”

Of course, much less benign than the media’s angle on Iraq is the Left’s anti-American agenda – powered by the current conflict. Indeed, all Leftist quarters are poised to criticize this military campaign at every juncture, and seek to convert the difficult days ahead into political capital. (For details of their shenanigans, see “On the Left,” below.)

In other news…

In addition to the obvious economic oil ties between Iraq, France and Russia, more evidence emerged this week that French companies have recently been selling spare parts, through a cut-out firm, for Iraq’s arsenal of French-made Mirage F-1 jets and Gazelle attack helicopters. And Russian companies have been selling anti-tank missiles, night-vision goggles and radar and GPS jamming equipment to the Iraqi military – all in violation of UN sanctions.

Fortunately, the GPS guidance jammers have not been too much battlefield trouble. In Tuesday’s CENTCOM briefing, Air Force Maj. Gen. Victor Renuart described how the GPS jammers had been dealt with: “We have noticed some attempts by the Iraqis to use a GPS jamming system that they obtained from another nation. We have destroyed all six of those jammers in the last two nights' airstrikes. I’m pleased to say they had no effect on us.” He paused, then added, “In fact, we destroyed one of the GPS jammers with a GPS weapon.”

Quote of the week…

“We’re fighting an enemy that knows no rules of law, that will wear civilian uniforms, that is willing to kill in order to continue the reign of fear of Saddam Hussein. But we’re fighting with bravery and courage.” –President George W. Bush

On cross-examination…

“If moving the Marines and the 101st Airborne to the gates of Baghdad in less than a week is a quagmire, then press treatment of total victory will sound like Iraq’s Republican Guard just seized Philadelphia.” –Jonah Goldberg

The BIG lie…

From the “Braying Jacque-asses” Files, “Democrats speak out on the war. As Democratic [sic] leaders led by Tom Daschle have fulfilled their constitutional duties by holding President Bush accountable for his actions, Republicans have responded with personal attacks that question the patriotism of Democrats.” –Démocrate Party boss Terry McAuliffe attempting to rally adolescents of all ages to the defense of Tom Daschle’s anti-American rhetoric. Now you know why their Party mascot is a jackass!

From the Left: The War in Review…

“Operation Iraqi Freedom,” is just a week old, but the scoffers are already offering up criticisms that the war effort is not going well. Unbelievable – can “quagmire” and “bogged down” be far behind? The answer is no. As the Iraqi front of the war on Jihadi terrorism heats up, Leftist media, religious and political fronts unleashed a new round of salvos against the Bush administration’s war policy.

As allied forces move across Iraq at a pace unprecedented in the history of warfare, it’s the Leftmedia that’s “bogged down.” Within 48 hours of the campaign’s opening salvos, ABC’s Peter Jennings evoked the deadly specter of… Vietnam. CBS’s Lesley Stahl quickly followed suit, asking one serviceman fighting in Iraq, “You fought in Vietnam. Are you getting any feelings of déjà vu?” (The soldier took offense at being addressed in the parlance of the French, where déjà vu is generally associated with surrender.) Later, in an interview with Colin Powell, Stahl questioned the secretary in such a way that one would think we were losing this war: “…this force isn’t massive enough.” “The rear is exposed.” “…you can’t get supplies….” Powell’s response: “Nonsense.”

And the Leftmedia heralded anti-American sentiments this week as protestors in New York City staged a “die-in,” lying in intersections throughout Manhattan to disrupt traffic and “raise awareness” of the innocents dying as a result of the U.S. war on Jihadistan in Iraq. Manhattan, you will recall, was the site of two other anti-American protests, the first staged by Islamic terrorists in 1993 and, more recently, September 11, 2001. CNN’s morning news blonde, Paula Zahn, couldn’t wipe the smirk off her face as she reported the incident.

One anti-war rally in San Francisco featured a large sign reading, “We Support Our Troops When They Shoot Their Officers.” Elsewhere in San Fran, Molotov cocktails were confiscated from protestors more aptly identified as anarchists, and another peaceful demonstrator raised the city’s per capita IQ a fraction when he died throwing himself off the Golden Gate bridge in protest of the war.

In Hollywood, Oscar became the new symbol of the anti-war movement as the stars converged for the Academy Awards ceremony. To say the least, the event gave the UN a run for its money for geopolitical wishful thinking. The crowning moment of the awards was filmmaker Michael Moore’s acceptance of the Oscar for Best Documentary for his anti-gun piece, Bowling for Columbine – a documentary so dull it makes Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico Philosophicus read like “shock and awe.”

Moore, not exactly the smartest bomb in the Left’s arsenal, took the opportunity to lambaste the Bush administration, despite the general plea that awards recipients abstain from political speech. “We live in fictitious times,” began Moore, who went on to rant against a “fictitious” president, “fictitious election results,” and a war fought for “fictitious reasons.” This is the same Michael Moore who, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, dubbed President Bush, VP Cheney and Attorney General John Aschcroft the “real axis of evil.” And Moore’s assessment of the success of the 9-11 terrorists: too many white people and not enough black men on the hijacked planes. Deep, real deep.

To the credit of a few present, Moore was booed off the stage for his remarks. And as a meter of public receptivity, the Awards received the lowest viewer rating in its 75-year history.

Typical of Left-theology objections is this comment from Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, who said of the war and of U.S. “arrogance” in general, “I’d like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologize for being from the United States.” And that church’s British progenitor, the Archbishop of Canterbury, recently asked Colin Powell, accusingly, if the war in Iraq was about “empire building.” Mr. Powell responded tersely: “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

And on the political Left, the Démocrates still can’t seem to get their wartime act together, not sure whether to continue with objections to military action, support the President and our troops, or a little of both.

Minority Leaders Sen. Tom Daschle and Rep. Nancy Pelosi have come out with statements this week offering support for American troops, but what does that really mean? Perhaps House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says it best: “You still have the Starks of the world, and the Sheila Jackson-Lees, who are trying to have it both ways. They start every comment with ‘I certainly support the troops,’ and then go denigrate why they’re there. That’s not supporting the troops,” said Delay, “because you are telling that soldier directly he’s risking his life for something that’s wrong, and that has consequences.”

Even former “fictitious president” Bill Clinton wanted to get in on the action with a discreetly qualified endorsement: “Whatever our politics at this hour, we all should want them and their commander in chief to know that we’re praying for them and pulling for them, for their success in their mission, for their safety, for as little loss of life as possible,” Mr. Clinton said. “That is our hope, the prayer of every American.”

Evaluating the Left’s multi-front offensive waged against our president and our troops in the field, our thoughts turn to the death of Democrat Sen. Pat Moynihan this week. With him, principled liberalism died. (Moynihan, you will recall, was the first to suggest a direct correlation between the expansion of the welfare state through the Great Society, and the disintegration of black families in the U.S.) Now, the active cadre of the political and social opposition arrayed against conservatives is authentically Left, and by extension, anti-American. Contrary to the old adage, the opposition – sadly – is no longer loyal. As Sen. Moynihan said famously, “Liberalism faltered when it turned out it could not cope with truth.”