I think the only good thing that's happened in the last week was yesterday, at a march from Hollywood and Vine to the CNN headquarters on Sunset Boulevard. Chief Bratton was there, walking through the crowd, and not in uniform. For those of you from LA, I'll bet you can't imagine any of our previous police chiefs doing that. "Two-Gun" Davis? Chief Parker with the Special Activities Squad? Darryl "Hang 'em High" Gates? Nope. Well, thank god for small favors.
Other than that, we've got nothing but bad news...international opinion is solidified against us, the Iraqis don't appear to respect our exhortations to surrender in the face of our "certain victory" (see the enclosed leaflets, which were dropped on them last week), and most important, the government is confronting far more violent resistance than they assumed. Some "liberals" may be enjoying this, but to the contrary, this is far worse for us. I have already seen a growing backlash by ordinary citizens to our protesting...San Francisco is a good barometer.
A long, bitter war will not hurt Bush much more than a short one, but it will hurt the rest of us. And bitter it will be: it's hard to impart facts in these screedlets when the most reliable source of information is Iraqi propaganda, but so far (unbelievably) their news has been more accurate than the American news. Cities which we supposedly captured on Thursday (Umm Qasr, Al Faw) are suddenly fighting back, troops which were not killed or captured yesterday are, yes, really dead or captured, planes which were not shot down are, yes, shot down, and in one case by our own missiles. And the "weapons of mass destruction" are nowhere to be found...and I hope that remains true.
The two cities between the "coalition" and Baghdad are both important religious centers, Al Najaf and Karbala. Any pitched battles there might garner a surprisingly strong reaction from Iran and the "oppressed" 60% Iraqi majority. Karbala is the site where the Shi'ite (followers of Ali) and Sunni (followers of the Caliph) made their break a thousand years ago. In the 1970s, the Iraqis allowed the Ayatollah Khomenei to use Al Najaf as his headquarters to foment revolution in Iran, until at the Shah's request he was expelled to France (where, with better access to the media and Iranian refugees, he DID foment revolution in Iran.) Both of these cities have strong significance to Shi'ite Muslims, the "oppressed" people we are supposedly liberating from Saddam Hussein.
Just to prove that I can find humor in anything, here's a French campaign that some may find worthwhile:
Pretzels for Peace -- a 'Twisted' Idea?
And something that says more about our national fear than I think was intended:
Single New Yorkers Seek Soulmates in the Dark
There is a protest tonight at the Academy Awards, and I'll admit that I've debated going for a week now, but the police and the counter-demonstrators have made too many precise threats. I wish my friends good luck; it would be nice to have a nasty surprise happen in our favor. Keep walking in the streets, and pray that the Iraqis will soon see the futility of fighting our government...that onerous task, unfortunately, will be left to us.
23 March 2003