Saturday, November 17, 2001

Took the Younger Stryker to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone yesterday. I haven't read the books myself, but the Younger is way into it, so we departed our lair for the local Cineplex. I was taken aback by how good the story was. Nice effects, good storyline, and an overall good time. It reminded me of Star Wars in some ways. I have to say that Harry Potter has alot going for it, and the Younger is already begging me to take him to go see it again. Warner Bros. should be pleased.

Friday, November 16, 2001

Depart from me head thou foul mucous!
I've been knocked out of commission with a bad head cold these past few days. I will return shortly, and will try my best to scale back on the war stuff and do more commenting on things I enjoy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2001

ABC 7: The Local Leader in Terrorist Ideas:
Speaking of watching the boobs on the tube, ABC 7 here in D.C. ran one of their "i-Team" reports (now in 7 different colors) about a new kind of penknife. It's a...well...a knife that looks like a pen. You pull the upper part off revealing a nice blade. The "i-Team" (Think Ignorant) also grilled the chinese owners of the shop that sold the implements and demonstrated several times that these knives were easy to obtain and looked no different from a nice, upper class pen. After the videotaped segment, the leader of the "i-Team" dramatically displayed the fine cutting power of the knife by slicing it through a pink piece of paper on live television (duh-duh-duh)! The reporter then said that they had not tried to infiltrate airport security with the pen-knife, because that'd be foolish and stupid, so he instead told in intricate detail how you could get the pen past airport security because of it's appearance and the fact that magnetometers don't pick it up. In an apparent attempt to deflect criticism that he was giving terrorists ideas, he said, "it's a good bet that if we know, then the terrorists know already". Well, they definitely do know, that's for sure. They also know where to purchase them and how to get them past airport security. Bravo, ABC 7 and the "i-Team"! You're a lock for that Peabody now!

In other news, Tom Ridge ordered heightened security at all paper mills due to the new penknife threat.
This is Not Right:
So I'm watching ITN news on one of the public channels here, and they have all this video of the Taliban retreating from their embassy in Pakistan. They're all driving SUV's, nice mid-size sedans, and the like. The bastards have better cars than I do! Christ, I could probably buy half of the land in Afghanistan with what I make in a week, but these bastards are driving around in SUV's that I can't even afford. What the hell is wrong with this world? I wonder if they've ever turned the radio on in them while they're enjoying the fine corinthian leather and luxury refinements.
Chasing after a Gimmick:
I guess since the American news networks are now deprived of their daily "civilian casualty" tours by the Taliban, they now have to dig deep and expose "wartime atrocities" by the Northern Alliance. Other than the fact that the history and tradition of warfare is far different in Central Asia than the West, we have this piece in The Times that describes some of the Taliban's tactics during the Battle of the River Taloqan:
In the Shia Muslim areas of central Afghanistan, there were reports of Taleban troops rounding up and murdering large numbers of young men and razing entire neighbourhoods before they withdrew.

A small number of suicidal Chechens killed several Northern Alliance soldiers by strapping explosives around their chests, emerging from their foxholes with their hands raised as if to surrender and then blowing up their captors and themselves.
These reasons and others could be some of the prime factors behind the "kill the bastards" thinking being employed by many of the Northern Alliance's soldiers.
Military Tribunals
From ABC News: Bush Signs Terror Trial Order. I think this was done primarily so we could try terrorists under the American justice system at our bases overseas.
Kabul Falls:
This is the quickest "quagmire" we've ever been in. Anyways, Kabul has finally fallen.
The Kabul office of Al-Jazeera television was hit by shells and put out of action.
It appears that we're not the only ones who see Al-Jazeera as sympathetic to bin-laden.

Now the hard part begins. We have to figure out how to form a political framework for the new government of Afghanistan, try to finish off the Taliban in the south, and begin airlifting food and medicine to the victims of the Taliban in the newly liberated regions. The political part will be especially messy. The NA already has a military presence in Kabul, and is in fact the only military presence in Kabul. That counts for quite a bit during negotiations. Also, they've been fighting the Taliban for years, and have been the ones to sacrifice the most during this most recent campaign. They now control half of the country, and will not likely part with their gains easily. We also have to watch out for factional fighting between the various warlords within the NA, and try our best to prevent a repeat of the pre-Taliban era.

We have our work cut out for us. We may be close to winning the war, but we're light years away from winning the peace.

Monday, November 12, 2001

Bahrain, Jewel of Arabia?
Emir praises the 'good fight' to liberate Afghanistan. With all the hatred and anger being churned out towards the U.S. by our "allies", it's nice to see someone in the region speak with intelligence and common sense about the nature of the current war. This is what a moderate Arab sounds like (sorry, Hosni). Bahrain's also a good example of the difference between a progressive Arab country, and the Medieval countries on the Arabian mainland. When you go from Saudi over to Bahrain, it's like stepping back into the modern world.

It looks like the Emir is moving the tiny emirate towards a more free and open society, a trend I hope continues. The issue of an elected legislature proves a problem for him, as most of the emirate is Shia, and he belongs to the Sunni minority. Still, we can hope that little island can become an example towards which all Arab nations should strive.

I wonder how many terrorists are Bahraini?
Putting the Fear of Allah into Them:
Game is up for Allah's New Model Army. From what I can tell this reporter was present during the events described. I found this bit the most intriguing:
"We did not want to fight. We were dragged here by force. We are not even being paid," said Mohammed Taqi. "The Taliban have no fighting spirit left. They are waiting only to see their fate. It is only the Arabs who fight."
Two things: First, Saddam did the same thing during the Gulf War to the same effect. You have to figure that one of these days, oppressive third world regimes will get the point that warm bodies do not equal a fighting force, especially impressed bodies. Second, that bit about the Arabs only fighting. It must be a reference to al-queda troops and the hardcore Taliban fighters. It's also who the NA talks about when they refer to "colonialists and outsiders".

It is only Arabs who fight. Why Arabs? What are Arabs doing in Afghanistan anyways? The leader of al-queda is Arab, the majority of the men who flew the planes into the WTC and Pentagon were Arab, the Taliban's beliefs are remarkably like Saudi Wahhibism, and we know that many Arabs give sizeable amounts of money to various "charities" which support bin-laden and his Arabs. It is only Arabs who fight. Come to think of it, alot of the fighting in Islamic countries nowadays is between traditional Islam (think Ottoman), and radical Islam which resembles Saudi Wahhabism. I wonder if there are Arabs in these other conflicts who are fighting. I also wonder if almost all of the current troubles in the Islamic world with fundamentalists can be traced back to Saudi financing and training. Like an octopus with it's tentacles, the House of Saud is stirring up unrest and civil wars in much of Africa and Asia. That's what I figure, at least. It is only the Arabs who fight.
House of Cards:
Kabul stands ready for the taking. That's the word from the Telegraph.
Fighters of the United States-backed Northern Alliance were poised to enter the capital, Kabul, last night after the Taliban defences collapsed under a ferocious American air bombardment followed by a ground assault.
Apparently, the Taliban is retreating towards Kandahar, their stronghold. They would probably be able to offer a stiffer defense with their forces concentrated in one area, and the locals are seemingly sympathetic to them as well. It may be that the Taliban strategy for now is to have Afghanistan seperated into two seperate entities, and will most likely send out propoganda in support of this strategy, instead of suffering complete collapse at the hands of their enemies. That doesn't do us any good, however, since they will still be able to harbor bin-laden and his group. It will be interesting to see how we respond to what will undoubtedly be a very interesting and fluid situation the next few days. I wouldn't be surprised if all the talk of "destroying the Taliban" by U.S. officials is toned-down significantly. I sincerely hope they don't, but I have this feeling of dread that they will (and thus, another half-assed action has been carried out by the U.S.).
The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly:
Pretty good critique of the current campaign in Afghanistan. I don't agree with some of the conclusions he draws, but he has a good analysis of what is currently going on: Bad News in the Good News
Right now, U.S. strategy seems more guided by fear of civilian casualties and coalition setbacks than anything else. The result is that the United States, for all the happy headlines this week, is increasingly locked into a conventional war dependent on questionable partners to fight an anachronistic effort to conquer irrelevant territory.
I would grudgingly agree, to an extent. This will be the case if we do this war like every other half-ass thing we've done in the last decade. We can only hope that somebody, somewhere has seen the light and will finally do something that prevents these people from jumping up and biting us in the butt in ten years, instead of just wiping our hands of everything after the military part is done.

More Alliance Victories
Taleban routed outside Kabul. The Northern Alliance has picked up some serious momentum since the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif a few days ago. I especially liked this blurb:
US F-18 jets are reported to be strafing the Taleban fighters fleeing in trucks and pick-ups.
Highway of Death, anyone? If it doesn't get play on the news, we should be good to go this time.
Previous Airbus Crashes:
A300 crash in Nagoya
List of A300 crashes
Comp Stalls on both engines on the A300 cause jet to come within 67 feet of ground before pilot recovery:
The FAA became concerned after a twin-engine Air Sudan A300-600, leaving Jedda, Saudi Arabia, in March, experienced compressor surges on both engines during takeoff. Following emergency procedures, the cockpit crew throttled back both engines to idle. An official report of the incident indicates that for about 50 seconds the engines didn't produce any thrust, and the jet came within 67 feet of crashing into the Red Sea before the pilot was able to regain power. Pratt said it has documented an earlier incident involving simultaneous loss of thrust on two engines.

Clarification: The power plants on the A300 that went down appear to be GE's and not Pratt's, although the GE CF6's have had fan problems in the past.
Airbus Crash
CNN.com - American Airlines jet crashes in New York. Let's hope this was a genuine accident, and that the casualties on the ground were light. The take-off phase of flight is usually the most dangerous, and is when most accidents occur. Also, the airbus A300 has had problems before. I'll try to find some resources relating to other crashes and put them up.

UPDATE:"It's looking like it's not a terrorist attack". That's the word from Ari Fleischer, White House Spokesman. Also, the FBI says there was an explosion on the plane before it crashed.