Along the Tracks

Friday, January 31, 2003

God Bless Italia!

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More on thiodiglycol has more on the pursuit of this mustard gas precursor by Iran and Iraq here. CBWInfo webmaster Alec informs me thiodiglycol is likely on my desk, in the ink of my ballpoint pen. I’ve asked for more info on the chemical and why it is listed by the U.N. as having “little or no use” except in the manufacture of chemical weapons. I’ll let you know what I find out.

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Multi-pronged attack

No, I’m not giving away the Allied war plan on Iraq. Rather, check out the New York Times opinion page today. Not one, not two, but three op-eds arguing against American policy toward Iraq.

The first, by Ethan Bronner, slips you into “contemporary Europe” at Basel airport along the Rhine, where you can end up in France, Germany or Switzerland by walking down different exits. Proof, says Bronner, that Europe has become “a near-haven of harmonious coexistence.” What he fails to mention is that it took five-plus years of blood, followed by decades of occupation, to create this “haven.” The snotty dismissal of the support shown by eight European leaders in a letter makes it clear Bronner believes Old Europe to be the only Europe.

Nicholas Kristof’s piece is disappointing, if not all that surprising. Kristof has been known to stray off the NYT’s editorial reservation now and again, admitting the Bush administration may be right, occasionally, in its foreign policy directions. It would appear Howell Raines has reined in Nick on this one. Here, Kristof ties together a defense of Franco-German anti-Americanism with a root-causes indictment of America’s inadvertent encouragement of terrorism by its mere presence in the Middle East. But if you think he’s against unilateral use of force, think again! “In retrospect we should have ignored the Europeans and unilaterally attacked Serbia to stop the genocide. Ditto in Rwanda. But in Iraq there is no such urgency.” So “yes” to unilateralism to protect others, “no” to unilateralism to protect ourselves. How convenient a position for liberals to take.

The third in this trite trifecta is perhaps the most morally bankrupt piece the Times has run in its entire campaign defending Saddam. Today, Stephen C. Pelletiere, a former CIA analyst and Army War College professor, makes the stunning claim that, because Saddam’s chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja took place during the tail-end of the Iran-Iraq War, and Iranian troops or Kurdish insurgents may have been the target, this was merely an act of war and not an example of civilian slaughter or genocide. He even suggests it may have been Iran which gassed the Kurds.

Think about the incongruity of these statements. On the one hand, the gassing was aimed at Iranians and Kurd rebels - Kurds, at the least, we know died in the attack. So Pelletiere is arguing Saddam was justified in using indiscriminate chemical weapons inside a village, where civilians would be concentrated and extremely vulnerable, because he was aiming at his enemies. Saddam was just defending himself, albeit in a sloppy fashion, so he can’t be held accountable if this scenario is true (at least in Pelletiere’s logic).

But wait: Some reports indicated it was Iranian gas that killed the Kurds, anyway, in which case Saddam is scot-free. Yet, wasn’t the defense a moment ago that the gas was aimed at Iranians and Kurdish rebels? Why would Iran target its own troops and allies?!

It’s a sad state of affairs when the New York Times uses its editorial might in an attempt wash blood off the hands of an aggressive, brutal, chemical-weapons-using murderer.

However, the NYT had little choice but to create this defense. After all, if America is justified acting unilaterally for humanitarian causes, Saddam’s record against civilians would be a casus bellum according to Kristof’s own argument!

Wow, the contortions necessary when your only principle is to oppose Bush!

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The opening to my Saturday column in the Bryan Times:

To begin, a song (to the melody of “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”):
You know China and Egypt and Libya and Sudan,
Syria, Zimbabwe, Iran, North Korea.
But do you recall, the most galling obstructionists of all?
The Franco-German alliance, had a self-righteous tone,
And in the world of Europe, it’s obvious they stand alone.
All of the serious nations, came together on Iraq.
They didn’t pay due deference, to Herr Schroeder and Monsieur Chirac.
Then one anxious Tuesday night, Dubya came to say:
“What we seek to do is right; to stop the evil we’ll have to fight.”
Then all the nations got it, and they started falling in line,
Turns out, that lame “alliance,” was just an “old Europe” whine.

What, another? Let me see ... okay, how’s this (sung to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”):
Piddle, paddle, Jacque Chirac,
Sees no danger with Iraq.
Those Twin Towers weren’t in France,
Besides, Germany wears the pants.
Piddle, paddle, Schroeder too.
Neither one knows what to do.

All right, all right. Just one more, then its time to get serious (to the classic, “Where Is Thumbkin?”):
Where is Chirac?
Where is Schroeder?
Here I am! Here I am!
What to do now that
Saddam has hidden weapons?
Run away! Run away!

That should set the tone of this piece pretty well ....

To see the rest, stop at a newstand tomorrow or subscribe!

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Condensed version

Give the Washington Post’s Michael Kinsley credit for taking on the tough job most liberals would shy away from - parsing the president’s specific arguments in the State of the Union address (rather than the more common partisan bickering); as always, Kinsley does it well.

The Detroit News praises President Bush’s sales job on Iraq which resulted in Thursday’s letter of support from eight European allies, but seems to think the accusation of “unilateralism” first reared its ugly head Tuesday night, after the SOTU speech!

Across the hallway, the Detroit Free Press says the president’s AIDS-fighting proposal is okay, but only if he relinquishes control and spends the money with the favored Global Fund.

Hard-hit Lima finds its News editors full-bore in favor of the Bush plan for tax cuts and economic stimulus.

Finally getting around to the SOTU for the first time, the Toledo Blade - one of America’s worst newspapers - strings together its usual collection of diversions (“’pre-emptive war’ casts aside 200 years of international law”), half-truths (“Bush continues to talk loosely about Iraqi links with al-Qaeda”) and out-and-out lies (“The ‘smoking gun,’ promised time and again, is yet to be found.” When was it ever promised? In any case, how much more than thiodiglycol does the Blade need?) to argue for keeping Saddam’s boot on the throat of the Iraqi people and gun pointed at the head of the world community.

Sorry about that last one - kinda long, but they got my dander up, daggumit!

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Kim wants attention again

I don’t like the sound of this.

Moving those spent fuel rods has long been considered the “red line” which the United States would not let North Korea cross. If the North does so (or is doing so), it would only be a matter of months before Kim has a mini-arsenal of eight or 10 nukes, ready to be strapped on a missile or sold to the highest bidder.

The situation demonstrates both the similarities and the differences between Iraq and North Korea. Iraq has been the greater immediate threat due to its desire and ability to hit us - the United States - through terrorist intermediaries. Any large-scale production of atomic bombs by Kim would elevate North Korea onto the same plain, because the likely buyers for his new commodity would be terrorists and terror-supporting states. After all, who else needs or wants nukes? And that situation - a nuclear bazaar, impossible for the U.S. and its allies to control - would be an unacceptable breach in security.

Kim may be gambling that Bush won’t stop his efforts to produce plutonium while the Iraq war is days away. He may be right, in the short term, but I don’t see how the U.S. can allow the nuclear assembly line to get rolling too far along. So, while it may be weeks away, it would seem that solid evidence that those fuel rods are being moved for processing sets in motion a confrontation with North Korea that will either end in an agreement for freezing of Kim’s nuclear weapons programs with intense inspections or military action.

And people doubted the connections inherent in the “axis of evil” a year ago.

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Thursday, January 30, 2003

Condensed version

In the Washington Post (yes, my first newspaper each morn), Richard Cohen, from the liberal pro-war side of the aisle, notes it is only America’s “gun” which brought Hussein this far, and has resulted in only two possible results: either Iraqi capitulation or war - and Cohen expects war.

The Cincinnati Post notes the sorry state of the Democratic Party in Ohio, considering Jerry Springer is generating excitement as a candidate for [fill in high-profile elected office here].

The Indianapolis Star due to the “growing body of evidence,” has decided to endorse ... two-parent families!

Still mulling the SOTU, the Akron Beacon Journal says the president “succeeded” in reasserting his leadership on the Iraq issue, yet the B-J remains “puzzle(d)” as to why we need to go to war now.

Finally, the Toledo Blade - one of America’s worst newspapers - and its editors accomplish the rare feat of talking out of both sides of their mouths on the same day, calling for personal responsibility when it comes to fast food but an immediate statewide ban on smoking in public places.

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Who’s isolated?

Allies, allies, allies. We need allies. We can’t do it without allies. Allies were necessary in the last Gulf War, in the D-Day invasion, the Democrats’ Gov. Locke warned. WE’VE GOT TO HAVE ALLIES!

This, from the BBC, should make something perfectly clear. WE HAVE ALLIES! Lots of them. Even previous skeptics like Russia are beginning to come around. But there is a certain pair of nations who seem to have precious little backing for their “solutions” to the world’s dangers: France and Germany. How unilateral of them.

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U.N. chemicals listing correction

Thanks to Tom Corbin for catching an error in my posting about thiodiglycol. This prohibited substance is mentioned on page 16 (not page 12) of the U.N.'s listing of substances Iraq is not allowed to possess. The posting has now been corrected.

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Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Steyn stiletto sharp

Mark Steyn, from Monday’s National Post, slices through the
abortion extremists’ arguments in typically irreverant and devastating fashion. I am
personally pro-choice, with reasonable and important limits. I believe the abortion debate
is an argument which requires convincing undecideds and those on the
other side of the value of each created human life. While Mark appears to be strongly
pro-life in a government-enforcement sense, his piece lays out many of the arguments
against abortion - arguments of value both for society and (maybe more importantly)
individuals - in a sharp, clear-cut style. Bravo.

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PC-CRAP in Cincinnati

Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park was planning a special tour of Queen City schools as part of its education outreach program. The play, “Paradise,” looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of two 16-year-olds - one Palestinian, one Israeli.

However, objections from the Muslim community in Cincinnati have scuttled the tour, according to the Cincinnati Post. Now, just one free public reading will be presented.

“‘The biggest concern we have is that it (the play) is one-sided,’ said Majed Dabdoub, a parent who has children in the Sycamore school district and who is a member of the Muslim community. ‘It’s not balanced.’”

A Playhouse posting from last fall which seeks actresses to play the lead roles describes the play:

“A powerful examination of the impact of war on children, Paradise is the story of two teenage girls. Fatima is Palestinian. Sarah is Israeli. Both love the cobalt skies above Jerusalem, its outlying towns and villages, their families, their country, their friends. In another time and place, they could easily have been friends — sharing their homework, passions, secret crushes and dreams for tomorrow. But tomorrow will never come.

“Fatima and Sarah also live with the nightmare of war. Daughters of two different worlds, trapped in unending cycles of violence, one of them will bring a tragic end to their separate dreams and to their final days of childhood. Based on a true story, Paradise is a powerful look, not simply at the Middle East conflict, but also at the far reaching effect war has on the lives of children.”

The play, written by Glyn O’Malley, was the 2002 winner of the Lazarus New Play Prize for Young Audiences. At a special December reading to invited members of the community, a group of mostly-uninvited Muslim activists berated the Playhouse and the playwrite for their perceived “one-sidedness.” It seems pretty clear minds were made up before the attendees ever heard a word of the play. A good description can be found in this column by Rick Pender.

Another black eye for Cincinnati. Oh, if you’re wondering, the true story upon which the play was based concerned the March 2002 suicide bombing executed by a teenage Palestinian girl.

Truth hurts.

Condensed version

The State of the Union is the topic of the day, and the Washington Post gives President Bush an “incomplete” in laying out the case against Iraq.

The editors of the Cincinnati Post, however, feel the speech was “surprisingly substantive” in its new proposals and “responsible” on Iraq.

The Detroit Free Press was also impressed by the speech, particularly the president’s confidence concerning his case against Iraq.

The Dayton Daily News calls the address a good first step in making the case for war.

Finally, ignoring the question of war, the Toledo Blade - one of America’s worst newspapers - scolds area Boy Scouts for taking part in the free enterprise system by selling a small portion of a local camp to finance improvements to its facilities throughout the region.

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What did he say?

Wow, one little State of the Union address talking about war in the Persian Gulf, and the next morning, gas prices skyrocket - 14 cents in the Bryan, Ohio area. I wonder if they’ll drop that much overnight when Saddam is toppled ....


How about the side-by-side links on the Washington Post website news page concerning the Israeli election (“World” category):
Sharon wins big/Palestinians worry

I can only respond, “Yes, he did/I’ll bet!”

P.S. - Note that, despite the extreme terrorist threat, Israel’s election went off without a hitch. Meanwhile, Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority continues to delay free elections in the West Bank and Gaza, saying Israel’s efforts to root out killers make it logistically impossible. A telling contrast, no?

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Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Indebted 2

Thanks also to Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit for the link.
P.S. - How does he find the time for that many posts?!

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Many thanks to Andrew Sullivan for linking to my research (posted below) on the discovery of thiodiglycol by Hans Blix's inspectors. Andrew’s the one we all seek to emulate. If his site isn’t your first stop each day, it should be.

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Condensed version

The Washington Post takes a hard line on the inspection process and Iraq’s lack of cooperation, asking what more the inspectors need to “accomplish” if they’ve shown Iraq to be unwilling to disarm - which they have.

Also, Richard Cohen decries the veiled anti-Semitism and unveiled anti-Americanism on display by erstwhile “allies” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The Detroit Free Press attempts to raise the bar for the inspectors, admitting Iraq has failed to comply with the Security Council resolution, but saying the inspectors have not proven that Saddam poses “a clear and present danger.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer proposes giving other nations of the world veto power over American use of force.

The Indianapolis Star, however, places the burden back where it belongs - on Iraq - and states flatly any continued delay in full compliance is grounds for action.

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Monday, January 27, 2003

Mustard gas precursor update 2

The UNMOVIC website has a documents file which includes this listing of banned substances and dual-use items. Interestingly, thiodiglycol (p. 16 on the document) is not mentioned with the dual-use chemicals, but rather among:
“chemicals that have little or no use except as chemical warfare agents or for the development, production or acquisition of chemical weapons, or which have been used by Iraq as essential precursors for chemical weapons and are, therefore, prohibited to Iraq, save under the procedure for special exceptions provided for in paragraph 32 of the Plan.”

Paragraph 32 of the Plan says:
“Chemicals that have little or no use except as chemical warfare agents or for the development, production or acquisition of chemical weapons or which have been used by Iraq as essential precursors for chemical weapons are set forth in list B of annex II. Iraq shall not retain, use, transfer, develop, produce, store, import or otherwise acquire these chemicals. Should Iraq require any chemical specified in list B of annex II, it shall submit a request to the Special Commission specifying precisely the chemical and the quantities required, the site or facility where it is to be used and the purpose of its use. The Special Commission will examine and decide on the request and establish the special arrangements it considers consistent with resolution 687 (1991).”

I think the “shall not” is pretty definitive. And if you’re wondering, after looking through the UNSCOM and UNMOVIC document listings, I don’t see any evidence Iraq has ever requested or received any exceptions as listed in paragraph 32 of the Plan.
Frankly, you can’t get much closer to a smoking gun than this - without shooting your foot off. This seems like big news to me, so why is the media not jumping all over it?

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Mustard gas precursor update

According to, a chemical and biological warfare agent information page, the precursor to mustard gas (thiodiglycol) mentioned by Hans Blix does have industrial uses outside of making mustard gas, but it is an “indicator” of exposure to mustard gas and is also found in soil and water after use of the gas.

Thus, this would appear to be a “dual-use” chemical. I cannot say if its production was proscribed by previous disarmament resolutions, but it certainly falls into the category of “required listing” in Iraq’s accounting document from December - and apparently, it was not.

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Define ‘smoking gun’

In his report before the Security Council, Hans Blix apparently admitted inspectors recently have found a mustard gas precursor in Iraq. I’m no chemist, so I can’t speak as to whether this “precursor” might be claimed under “dual use” or not, but Blix did say it was not in the 12,000-page listing Iraq gave to the U.N. in December.

So, once again, critics will claim this is no “smoking gun.” But now we have found bullets (the chemical warheads) and smoke (the mustard gas precursor). As so many have said, it’s likely the “smoking gun” will be a green cloud hovering over the dead in Tel Aviv or London or New York.

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Condensed version

In the Washington Post, U2 lead singer Bono puts his eloquence effectively on display in a different format, calling on President Bush to lead a united world battle against AIDS.

Also in the Post, Jackson Diehl correctly notes the seeming incongruity between the majority of Israelis being pro-peace process yet also about to re-elect Sharon is in fact a logical response to the lack of reform promised by the Palestinian Authority.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer offers a well-thought-out critique of George W. Bush’s faith-based initiatives, and how they might damage religious institutions.

The Toledo Blade - one of America’s worst newspapers - sees today as a slow news day, apparently, and so pulls out its generic Democratic talking points on “Republican Administration environmental destruction,” and closes by praising “an increasingly militant environmental movement” - quite a “compliment” in a time of terrorism and war jitters, eh?

Finally, when it comes to the recently passed omnibus budget, the Cincinnati Post hates the oven that cooked it up, but loves the pork inside!

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