War - How Very, Very Tedious
And so the betrayals start - Turkey gives the US the right to overfly their territory and a matter of minutes later Turkey sends fifteen hundred troops into Kurdish Iraq. The US says there's no quid pro quo
involved; in fact, they would rather the Turks hadn't done it. Still, I won't be holding my breath waiting for the US to kick Turkey out. After decades of US military aid for Turkey's attacks on the Kurds - including incursions into northern Iraq - it would be churlish, to say the least, to start complaining now.
The Turkish government excuses the incursion as a humanitarian intervention and a defensive measure: that's called learning from the best.
Silly old me - last night I actually found myself believing that the US had decided to avoid "shock and awe" in preference for a careful land advance designed to encourage surrender of ground forces, and allow elements in the Iraqi administration to remove Saddam themselves, thus bringing the war to a speedy conclusion without significant destruction. Then I wake this morning to hear them blasting Baghdad to pieces on the breakfast radio news. That'll learn me.
Tom Brokaw was interviewing some idiot this morning (Sydney Time) who was explaining that the campaign was designed to let the Iraqi people know that they were not the enemy, nor was Iraq; the US was after Saddam. Quite how this message is conveyed by hitting Iraq's most populous city with 320 cruise missiles in one night, he failed to make clear.
Meanwhile, in Umm Qasr a US marine hauls down the Iraqi flag and sends up a Stars and Stripes in its place. No war on Iraq here, folks, and no space on that replacement flag for the forty five countries that have bravely volunteered stationery supplies and whatnot to the grand project of liberation. You'd think they'd have come up with a "Coalition of the Willing" logo by now.
I might note in passing that the Iraqi flag has, since Gulf War I, incorporated the phrase "Allahu Akbar (God is Great)" in its design (Saddam's little attempt to get some co-religionists on side, rather like Eisenhower adding "In God We Trust" to the design for the greenback), so hopefully our flag-substituting jarhead friend folded his souvenir neatly and made sure to keep it somewhere clean. I remember during one of the last few Soccer World Cups when sponsor McDonalds decided to wrap their fat-in-a-bun in a design incorporating the flags of the World Cup nations. One of them was Saudi Arabia, the flag of which incorporates a quote from the Koran. Naturally, Muslims in general and the Saudis in particular objected, so the Saudi flag was removed from the wrapping. If that sounds precious, think for a moment of how the average Christian fundy would react if paper covered with the phrase "I am the way, the truth and the light*" was used to package greasy burgers and then tossed into the trash. So let's keep the flag-desecration to a minimum, boys.
At the ADF Press briefing General Peter Cosgrove was asked by a Channel Nine reporter if a CBS report that Australian SAS dudes had discovered WMD was true. "I'm not usually going to confirm or deny those kind of reports but I will this time - No. It's a furphy." That's our Peter - it's not his job to stop American journos looking like idiots.
* Extremely belated correction: Or "life", if you prefer. Ahem.