Post Holiday, um, Post
I actually meant to resume last night, but Cox Cable took care of that with its own holiday break (something tells me that won't be reflected in the bill). Anyway, attention obviously is being focused on South Asia, and rightly so. After seeing some of the tamer tsunami footage on Nightline yesterday, all I could think was "oh my god."
The surge in some areas rivaled anything you'd see in a hurricane--except there was little or no warning.
Others can certainly provide more detail on the science or the tragedy itself, so I'll move on to some other things, even as I look for agencies that could use a few of my dollars.
Moving the focus back to Iraq for a moment, I saw these stories linked to at Juan Cole's website: the first, from CNN's international edition, quotes one of the French journalists held hostage as saying that his captors, as you might expect, were thrilled by Bush's election--it will do wonders for recruitment. The second story, from the BBC cites Georges Malbrunot (one of the journalists), as saying he felt like he was on "planet bin Laden." Great--Iraq under Saddam tolerated such lunatics, but was never a home base for them. Now, thanks to the idiotic occupation, they've got recruits, ridiculous amounts of explosives, targets--and the US Military is powerless to stop them. The captors went on to say that their real goals are destabilizing Saudi Arabia and Egypt--in other words, the richest and the most populous of the Arab nations. If they succeed, what happens in Iraq will matter a LOT less--it will be more gravy than main course.
However, in one hopeful sign, Cole suggests that bin Laden shot "himself in the foot" with his latest audiotape, which calls for a boycott of the upcoming election. According to the professor, Iraqis will see him as meddling in their internal affairs. He further notes that Iraqis, as a group, aren't real comfortable with Wahabbist Islam of the type bin Laden practices. In Cole's mind, this could indicate an erosion of Al Qaeda's power--as he put it, perhaps they're more like the Baader Meinhof Gang or Red Army Faction, albeit with greater reach.
If true, this would be good, because the alternative--a true fundamentalist theocracy taking control of Mesopotamia--would make an absolute mockery of Bush's simplistic "the world is better off without Saddam Hussein" statements he's fond of spitting out like so much tobacco juice. Saddam, for all his viciousness, was not going to embark on jihad. Those who WOULD engage in such insanity are the flip side of a coin that has George W. Bush's ugly mug on the obverse--the bin Ladens of the world NEED George W. Bush and vice versa.
I'd add a few more things, but work calls. Back in a bit.