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Conflict with Iraq

Battle Lines
Tom Brown
Tom Brown
Battle Lines is an ongoing Web log (blog) dedicated to providing a broad perspective on the latest news and developments from the war in Iraq. Response and suggestions are welcomed.

Tom Brown has been an editor, reporter and software analyst for The Seattle Times for 20 years.

April 07, 2003

What do we want? A wider war!

The war in Iraq is not quite won, much less the peace, and already some folks are frothing for more.

Here’s John Derbyshire in the National Review Online regarding what we should do about North Korea’s "dear leader" Kim Jong-Il:

"I have a modest proposal: let's kill the (expletive)."

Kim is right up there with Saddam on the Evilmeter. But unlike Saddam, whose missile arsenal proved capable of little more than breaking some windows in a Kuwait City mall, the U.S. estimates that North Korea’s military has the ability to pour 400,000 artillery rounds per hour into Seoul and its suburbs, which have a population of 22 million. Plus, he just might already have a nuke or two. And he has tested a missile capable of getting them to Seoul – or Tokyo. A beefed-up, but untested, version of this same missile is said by the CIA to have the ability to put a warhead down in Seattle, San Francisco and L.A.

Maybe we should think about this.

There’s little time, though. The UN Security Council is scheduled Wednesday to consider a U.S. proposal to impose sanctions against North Korea because of its pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korea has said that it would consider sanctions an "act of war."

Maurice Strong, special adviser to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, visited Pyongyang and seems to think another war on the Korean peninsula is almost inevitable.

Secretary of State Colin Powell describes the problem with North Korea as one that can be resolved through diplomacy. Kim Jong-Il, however, has said that he believes he is next on the U.S. hit list.

It is worth remembering that the first Korean War cost the lives of more than 35,000 Americans and perhaps 2 million Koreans.

So, how about the rest of the Axis of Evil?

Even Derbyshire seems to think there may be ways of dealing peacefully with Iran, which, though it is very close to nuclear capability, also has an increasingly lively internal movement toward more democratic government.

Not so his colleague, Michael Ledeen, who argues for taking out the leadership of both Syria and Iran.

The so-called "neoconservatives" in the Bush administration have made it clear that it's part of their grand plan to take on other "rogue" governments after we’re done with Iraq. This piece answers some of the questions about where these ideas came from.

The New York Times outlines current Bush administration thinking.

And here is a piece from a Libertarian site that discusses why an attempted Pax Americana is a bad idea both abroad and at home.

As a footnote, it’s worth noting that Paul Wolfowitz, one of the chief advocates of forcing our will on other countries whose leadership we don’t like, says it will take at least six months to get a functioning government set up in Iraq.

To act or to take notes

Journalists are, rightly, concerned about becoming "part of the story." That is, crossing a line between reporting what’s going on and becoming personally involved with it.

But journalism ethics are still situational sometimes because of the unpredictability of life. Take the case of Sanjay Gupta. He’s a neurosurgeon from Atlanta who has been accompanying, as an "embedded reporter," a Navy field hospital that sounds like something out of "MASH" – the "Devil Docs."

On Friday, Gupta was asked to scrub and get into the operating room to try to save the life of a 2-year-old Iraqi child who had been hit in the head by shrapnel because none of the Devil Docs was a brain surgeon. He did. Unfortunately, the child ultimately died from his wounds. Gupta later was asked to help treat a soldier with head wounds, and again he agreed.

There’s no doubt that he crossed the line between observer and participant. But – did he have a choice? Dr. Gupta’s case no doubt will be examined closely by journalism poobahs. But it's hard to avoid the fact that saving lives is, with rare exceptions, a higher calling than filing stories.

It’s a harder decision in Baghdad

The few reporters left in Baghdad (that is, on the Iraqi side of the line, rather than those with U.S. troops) have to deal daily with ethical problems that few of their colleagues will face in a lifetime.

The coming underground war

U.S. troops already have seized two of Saddam Hussein’s four palaces in Baghdad. No doubt they will attempt to seize the others shortly. This is not just symbolic. All the palaces are believed to sit over miles of interconnected, multi-level tunnels, passageways and bunkers. Some are said to have been designed to withstand an atomic blast the size of the Hiroshima bomb, so it’s probably safe to assume that many of these facilities are intact and that Saddam and his sons are down there, somewhere.

"Chemical Ali" is dead

Ali Hasan al-Majid, a cousin of Saddam who was dubbed "Chemical Ali" for organizing a poison-gas attack that killed thousands of Kurds in 1988, reportedly was found dead in the rubble of his palace in Basra following a U.S. air strike.

NBC’s David Bloom dies

NBC correspondent David Bloom died outside Baghdad while on assignment with U.S. forces. He apparently suffered a blood clot in his lungs.

Posted by tbrown at April 7, 2003 08:05 AM

Tom Brown Katherine Long, research editor at the Seattle Times and 18-year editor and reporter, substituted for Tom Brown the week of April 14.

April 2003
March 2003

Signing off
The Saddam Files
Demonstrations in Karbala
Building a government from scratch
Smoking gun?
The irony of freedom
Where are the weapons?
Cultural advisors quit over antiquities issue
Baghdad reality check


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