21-31 March 2003
|30 Mar||Gulf War II Kaleidoscope|
|28 Mar||War Propaganda; War Crimes|
|27 Mar||Green "camouflage" in Iraq|
|27 Mar||Schools Closed due to SARS? paranoia?|
|26 Mar||SARS in Singapore|
|23 Mar||Bid for street signs|
|23 Mar||The North Korea standoff|
|21 Mar||Gulf War II: Singapore's stand|
|21 Mar||Gulf War II: Day 2|
Gulf War II Kaleidoscope
30 March 2003 10:02 PM SGT (link)
I could never hope to match or even surpass the coverage of the war from all the blogs and news sites around, so I'll just give some links pertaining to issues I last talked about, & some new ones.
- War Crimes recapitulation: The numerous war crimes perpetrated by Saddam's irregular forces and fedayeen, paramilitaries, have just got worse; most recently they have resorted to Palestinian-style suicide bombings (CNN: Iraq promises more suicide attacks). Washington Post has a nice summary below:
...A tour of the dictator's latest war crimes might well start in Nasiriyah, where U.S. Marines this week found Iraqi paramilitary fighters headquartered in a hospital. There they had stationed a tank, stored weapons and laid in a supply of 3,000 protective suits for use against chemical or biological weapons. From their hospital base -- war crime No. 1 -- Iraqis disguised in civilian clothes or carrying white flags -- war crime No. 2 -- attacked U.S. positions. They forced Iraqi civilians to act as scouts and human shields -- war crime No. 3 -- before inviting Arab television crews to film the resulting dead and wounded. Their greatest success was the ambush of a wayward U.S. supply convoy, during which they appear to have executed several American prisoners -- war crime No. 4 -- before broadcasting an interrogation of others on state television -- war crime No. 5...
- Washington Post: War Crimes
Also, CNN's Fleeing Basra civilians 'fired on'. Disgusting.
- The plan: Now that the coalition forces seem to have generally stopped the push towards Baghdad in favour of consolidation of supplies and waiting for reinforcements, everyone is questioning whether the plan to quickly move towards Baghdad with a small force (smaller than the Iraqis', anyhow) was flawed, in the emergence of tough resistance in the south and overstretched supply lines. Everyone's also pointing out the differences the civilian and military brass had. Army's race to Baghdad exposes risks in battle plan is a good article on how the plan was conceived and developed, and details from the front too - people interested in the military aspect of this war will appreciate this. While I'm not really that kind of guy, I've also enjoyed reading Phil Carter's blog INTEL DUMP - he's a former Army officer and strategic planner, and gives very insightful comments on military trainng and how he sees the various aspects of the war, for instance, "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics.". Read it when you've tired of the newspapers' vague coverage of such matters.
Everyone in the media seems to delight in calling the plan flawed because of the reinforcements and the pause, though I think everyone neglects to mention the numerous raids on Iraqi positions by jets and helicopters, and the advance in the north (Guardian: Kurds Get Glimpse of Seized Iraqi Lands). I think patience is the keyword: I suppose we'll need at least a few weeks or so to gauge both the military and political situation - whether America's progress in Iraq and relations with Iraq's neighbours and the wider Arab world will improve. It seems now that they really need to lynch Saddam in the centre of Baghdad (and put it on TV) before his followers in Iraq and supporters elsewhere realise he's a dead duck.
Meanwhile I recommend lowering the TV-watching & increasing the newspaper- and blog-reading, mine included of course :-) The problem with TV is that when there's nothing to report they fill up the empty air with crap or whine about the dangers facing the Americans (while before the war they were gushing with the talk of "cakewalk"). There's hardly any perspective to be had, even with the presence of embedded journalists. The Washington Post has had more insight on military tactics and political implications so far.
- Speaking of Iraq's neighbours, Rumsfeld recently displayed some of his famous "pulpit diplomacy" again, and Talking Points Memo blogger Joshua Marshall says this:
I have a simple request: Is it possible for the Bush administration to go one day without fulfilling its critics' direst predictions about its war aims and operational abilities?
Yesterday, The Washington Monthly released my new article on the Bush administration's grand plan for reforming the entire Middle East. One assertion many found difficult to believe was my claim that the administration would soon seek to provoke wars with Syria and Iran. Today, Don Rumsfeld threatened both countries with just that. Admittedly, this creates some extra buzz for the article and this website as well. But frankly, Don, TPM is doing okay and, buddy, you're starting to get a kinda scary.
In brief, Rumsfeld warned Syria about its alleged trafficking of military supplies to Iraq, and Iran's support to the Badr Corps, a "proxy" military force inside Iraq that could cause trouble for the U.S. forces, calling them "hostile acts" and a "potential threat." (CNN, Rumsfeld warns Syria about aiding Iraq) Such talk isn't going to win Rumsfeld many friends; but then again he has done it before - I remember I was surprised at his remarks about France and Germany being "old Europe" when they did not support the war against Iraq - those remarks, I suspect, only stiffened their opposition to the Americans. For some worrying theories on whether the harsh words to Syria and Iran are actually intended, read Marshall's Washington Monthly article linked above.
- Speaking of the crap on TV, this is extremely funny:
After little more than a week, is this war coverage in trouble? Already questions are being raised about whether the media's plan was fatally flawed. Several analysts are surprised that, despite overwhelming dominance of the air, television and radio divisions have so quickly repeated the mistakes of Afghanistan. Meanwhile, on the ground, rapidly advancing columns become stalled in Vietnam-style quagmires around the second paragraph...
- The Telegraph: They dominate the air, but still the media can't win
- Slate analyses the phenomenon of the TV Generals that are "embedded in the anchor's chair", as they put it. Personally I don't think much of them, maybe because of saturation than anything else. Slate puts it well here:
Like the color commentators who analyze football games, the generals are hired both to restate the obvious (Lt. Gen. Dan Petrosky on MSNBC: "Being inside a dust storm is very, very difficult") and to get viewers inside the game (Allard, on why Iraqis aren't using radar for their air defenses: "You simply invite a very swift death for yourself if you do this"). But their demeanor is closer in character to that of a local radio sports show than it is to Monday Night Football. They're upbeat, they're unashamed of their homerism, and most of them refuse to second-guess anyone. The TV generals may be analysts, but they're not critics...
- Slate, TV Generals
- The rise of the neo-conservatives (ST): an issue that has arrived in Singapore courtesy of Janadas Devan. Read it. Meanwhile I'll look for links to articles from American newspapers and journals which have also covered this emerging ideological group that will conceivably affect U.S. foreign policy for years, if not decades. Coincidentally Marshall's article I mentioned above - the Syria & Iran issue - goes into greater detail on the dangers of the neo-conservative thinking.
- Spinsanity criticises some journalists for equating sceptical or critical coverage of events against the U.S. as pro-Saddam: Framing critical news reporting as pro-Saddam. Andrew Sullivan of course is one of them: "Baghdad Broadcasting Corporation"? Come on, it's not nearly so bad.
- Speaking of the crap on TV, this is extremely funny:
War Propaganda; War Crimes
28 March 2003 12:21 AM SGT (link)
It has been slightly over a week and the media coverage of the war against Iraq has been extraordinary in many senses. For the first time we have journalists "embedded" in American and British combat units, travelling with the soldiers, experiencing the hardships and perhaps with crucial roles to play in verifying initial claims of finding chemical or biological weapons, or war crimes committed by Saddam's regime (more on this later). Blogs are streaming near-constant updates with links to news sites, frontline reports from soldiers or military experts' commentary; I've been fixated on Command Post, mostly, and InstaPundit, not a war blog but mostly that these days. More "talking heads" on television than ever, not to forget Al Jazeera and some other Arab news channels. Unprecedented worldwide attention on a war that some say is illegal and others protest for the sake of peace.
Some biases have emerged amidst the confusion and fog of war with regard to the conduct of war by the Americans/British vs. the Iraqis. The BBC, especially, has come under fire (figuratively) by Andrew Sullivan and others - as I see it, they give a lot of airtime to the latest battles with Iraqi forces and paramilitaries, complaints about humanitarian crises in Basra and Umm Qasr, peace protests in the Arab world and Iraqi government press conferences (side note: they made a big deal about the UNHCR refugee camps in Jordan awaiting Iraqi refugees, but so far only African foreign workers have turned up).
The Iraqi Information Minister can rail all he wants against the Americans and British, & make all kinds of wild allegations, and it's shown ad verbatim and regarded as the truth, whereas when the U.S. Central Command has press conferences in Qatar the BBC correspondent there is careful to preface claims with "they say". I saw on CNN - but it could easily have been the BBC too - a correspondent who analysed with a sceptical tone what the Americans wanted to show to the world with these conferences where they show videos of the precision of bombs and cruise missiles on military targets while leaving nearby civilian facilities, like water purification plants, intact. The implicit lesson we're getting here is that this is an illegitimate war causing needless suffering (supposedly all Iraqis are pissed about bombings or lack of running water, not a tad pleased that Saddam is about to be removed from power) and the coalition forces are getting "bogged down", whereas the picture at U.S. CentCom or elsewhere never seems nearly so desperate. Saddam's regime's legitimacy is never questioned despite its numerous acts that should offend any decent human being (see later).
Around the time when the first U.S. POWs were captured by Iraqi forces, there has been an exchange of accusations and counter-accusations of war crimes, specifically violations of the Geneva Conventions (my post on POWs). One case was when the coalition forces bombed the Iraqi TV station - organisations like Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists protested (Guardian: TV station attack could be illegal, Hoon: TV stations can be targets). Yesterday 15 Iraqi civilians died when a bomb exploded in a busy market, but as usual, initial reports are conflicting, and the Pentagon denies it targeted Iraqi market, saying it could have been an Iraqi anti-aircraft missile.
Anyway, what I want to address is the persistent bias against the coalition - simply because Americans and British possess and use precision weapons, they are expected to minimise civilian casualties - certainly to avoid targeting them - and as a result when any deaths occur due to the inevitable missile malfunction, or indeed, something else, it's splashed everywhere & the coalition is blamed (CNN, Iraq: 'Civilians are being bombed'). The Iraqis, however, are free to sabotage the Umm Qasr port with mines, preventing emergency aid from being shipped in; use civilians as human shields in Basra, shooting at them with mortars; merge into the populace or team up with paramilitaries to harass coalition forces, plan ambushes, take POWs - even shooting soldiers who have surrendered (Report Says Slain U.S. Soldiers Tried to Surrender, Reuters); pretend to surrender to attack Marines; staging attacks from a hospital - all these, despite many of them being open violations of the Geneva Conventions, passes with nary an outcry from either peace activists or news commentators. And Saddam's government claims that the coalition is deliberately targeting civilians! Juxtapose this with the restraint the coalition forces have shown - e.g. not levelling the hospital near An Nasiriyah with Fedayeen inside because there might be civilians inside too - and the possibility that less Americans or British might have died needlessly if they had responded with full force. Then the BBC says "Britain and the US are now seen by ordinary Iraqis as having made victims of those they say they want to liberate." This is outrageous.
...Ignoring, for the moment, AI's bogus claim at TV stations are immune from attack under international law let's look at how this document is constructed, shall we? The press release has a total of 8 paragraphs, 2 are general condemnations of attacks on civilians, 5 condemn the attack on Iraq's TV station, and 1 (yes, only one) paragraph condemns Iraq's "reported" flagrant violations of the Geneva Accords. I find this absolutely amazing that AI would have the unmitigated gall to condemn the TV attacks (which is in no way a violation of any accord) with six times the verbage as the blatant (read that as a "plain text" not an invented construct) violations of Saddam's Fedayeen. It gives credence to Glenn Reynolds' fear of international law becoming "all-purpose tool of anti-Americanism."
Read the whole post - it has links to the specific part of the first Protocol relevant to the Fedayeen's behaviour. It's not merely against the Geneva Conventions, it's a clear sign of what kind of regime allowed these thugs to roam about imposing Saddam's rule and harassing the people:
Art 37. Prohibition of Perfidy
1. It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
(b) the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
(c) the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
(d) the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
Some news commentators, though, are openly pissed; see Sgt. Stryker again:
Dan Abrams of MSNBC is pissed. It's kind of weird to see a television anchorman displaying frustration and disbelief at certain things going on. The whole thing about the Iraqis dressing in civilian clothes and shooting from protected sites has really stuck in his craw. First he hammered Gen. Trainer about it, and the General explained LOAC and all that good stuf, but Abrams just wasn't buying it. It looked to me that he just wanted to blurt out, "Why can't we blow up that mosque, if they're killing Marines?"
Then he had a retired JAG on and hammered him about the same thing. And then I heard something I thought I'd never hear an "objective" journalist say, and I paraphrase, "So our guys have to check with lawyers before they fire back? So we have these self-imposed rules that lawyers impose on our troops and the government imposes on itself and now Marines are dead because of it." That last line was a statement, not a question. The JAG guy's trying to explain about PR and the rest of it, but Abrams was on a roll. "Those Arab TV networks are going to show us supposedly targeting and killing civilians no matter what we do while we follow the Rules of War." It was nothing short of astonishing to hear that. I don't know what prompted all this. Perhaps he saw the tape of the Americans executed and exploited on TV. Who knows? But man, it was something to see.
You can almost hear the capital letters being pronounced: "Rules of War." I want to correct what I said previously: I think international law is in grave danger if we are going to allow this kind of crap to continue.
Green "camouflage" in Iraq
27 March 2003 11:46 PM SGT (link)
As always, Slate's Explainer column gets to that question at the back of your mind that you wanted to ask but never did: Why Are U.S. Troops Wearing Dark-Green Camouflage? The American soldiers concerned are apparently from the Army's 4th Infantry Division. I thought it might be because the terrain was more green in the area around Baghdad, but amazingly Slate exposes it as a logistics screw-up. Interesting reading.
Schools Closed due to SARS? paranoia?
27 March 2003 10:51 PM SGT (link)
It is the largest closure of primary, secondary schools, and junior colleges in 45 years since the 1958 polio outbreak.
Singapore's universities, polytechnics and institutes of technical education, however, have stayed open.
The Government says these students are older and can take necessary precautions, but students are unhappy.
Polytechnic students have started an online petition to protest the decision not to close the tertiary institutes. [Also see Channel NewsAsia, Students start online petition to close polytechnics over SARS fears, and The "Closure of Universities in Singapore due to SARS" petition]
"What's the difference between poly and JC students? JC, poly and ITE students are at the same age and level," asked one polytechnic student.
- Channel NewsAsia, SARS: Singaporeans deal with school closures and child care alternatives
My question yesterday has been answered i.e. this kind of nation-wide school closures haven't happened in quite a while, nor with so many people affected. But I found it interesting that poly & uni students have already started the outcry; this afternoon I heard a student make the following points on NewsRadio 93.8, all valid:
- Poly students are of the same age group as JC students. [Comment: I find it hard to believe that a virus could discriminate so finely between someone aged 18, JC student; aged 18, poly student or aged 19, uni student - worse, could it have the ability to differentiate between A Level & Diploma students?! It would be funny if this wasn't serious business - any wrong move could result in deaths.]
- Polytechnics have bigger populations than JCs and so it might actually be easier for the disease to be spread.
- Polytechnics are not closed because the students "can take necessary precautions", but this particular student interviewed said that she had not heard anything from her poly. When asked, the polys said that they were in the midst of preparing advisories.
Rationale for closures, or lack thereof: The government has truly changed tact after the deaths - Lim Boon Heng says steps to curb SARS in line with 'better to be safe than sorry' later. But as what I've said above, it's highly doubtful that this mass school closure can achieve much, when nobody has shown that SARS is more virulent among the young or in the particular age groups affected by these closures. There has been no compelling evidence that any student, group of students or school has propagated SARS. It seems more and more likely that the government wanted to prevent public outcry over the deaths by showing that they're doing something; even if in the end it proves futile, at least they have that action to back them up. What we should be looking at is the possible ways SARS could have spread, either from the original three carriers from Hongkong, Tan Tock Seng Hospital staff, or friends and relatives, & not cause panic or disruption unnecessarily as they've done now just because previously-identified patients took a turn for the worse. You might have reassured a few vocal parents, but the rest of the population has been upset too.
Role of the media: "Why are you closing schools only if SARS hasn't proven to be particularly virulent or deadly among students?" "Why not the polys or universities - really?" These are questions the media should be asking the ministers, not only because they're newsworthy but because they need to be asked, they are matters of grave public interest. But were they asked? Of course not. The media as usual reported the various calls from ministers, including our PM (PM Goh says handling SARS outbreak openly will give people confidence, Channel NewsAsia), and acted as the government's unquestioning news distribution channel. The most it would do is point to the existence of petitions and ground unhappiness. Am I alone in thinking that this kind of head-in-the-sand attitude from the media is totally unhelpful in allaying people's concerns?
Conclusion: The real reason this closure is not implemented for polys, unis & ITEs is probably because it's more difficult to reschedule classes under their system, compared to JC & below. This is the prevailing theory for me - unfortunately, it cannot address the concerns of the aggrieved poly or uni students. Instead an unconvincing reason is offered, and any chance the government had of reassuring the nation now seems to be a last-ditch desperate PR move. If it saves lives, then good, otherwise, who would lose? That's the calculus we're looking at now.
SARS in Singapore
26 March 2003 10:48 PM SGT (link)
For weeks now the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) has spread in Singapore, but we all thought that it was contained to three women who had caught the disease while in Hongkong, as well as hospital staff and their friends and relatives. Our Health Minister said as much in Parliament. Soon after the two deaths here were reported today, MOE & MOH suddenly changed tact and decided to close the schools - child-care centres, pre-primary, primary, secondary, junior colleges and centralised institutes - until April 6 (a period of 10 days). See Schools to close for a week to contain Sars infection (ST), SARS: Second death confirmed, all schools up to JC level to close till 6 April & All Singapore schools up to JCs to be closed until 6 April: Education Minister (Channel NewsAsia) and Deadly bug shuts Singapore schools (CNN).
What I find strange was that all along we have known that SARS is not especially virulent among children or teenagers, like the hand, foot and mouth disease of a few years ago was (among toddlers), yet this unprecedented (I believe) closing of schools, affecting 600,000 students, is supposed to be an effective precaution. It doesn't seem logical to target the schools as opposed to, say, the universities. If the disease is only spread to those coming into close contact with patients, then either they suspect that a large group of students have been exposed - and mind you, 740 [were] ordered to stay home (ST) just a few days ago - or, that this age group is somehow more susceptible to SARS.
For some speculation outside of public health concerns, this seems more like a public relations move, unthinkable as that might be coming from a PAP government, to reassure parents that their kids will be safe. Anyway the lost time will be recouped in June, and if there are no additional cases then everyone will see this as effective - that's the cynical point of view. Something like the colour alerts the U.S. Department of Homeland Security puts out when they feel there is a heightened risk of terrorist activity.
Aside: SARS is believed to be related to the spread of atypical pneumonia in Guangdong that caused a panic, which I wrote about a month ago. It seems that the Chinese authorities either did not take the outbreak seriously or did not have effective measures to deal with it spreading to Hongkong and other places.
25 March 2003 3:04 PM SGT (link)
On Day 6 of the conflict there have been numerous Marines taken prisoner by the Iraqis and being shown on TV; Donald Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense, complained that this was "humiliating" and illegal under the Geneva Conventions. The Iraqis subsequently said that they were not violating the conventions. Slate, among other sites, analyses Rumsfeld's claim:
Both Rumsfeld and Human Rights Watch base their charges on Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention. Article 13 says nothing specific about videotaping of prisoners - intrusive or otherwise - because the convention was approved in 1949, long before the advent of portable video cameras, satellite uplinks, and news around the clock. Article 13 concerns itself primarily with merciful treatment of prisoners. The relevant section reads:
Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. ... [P]risoners of war must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. [Emphasis added.]
Apparently it's not too clear whether showing POWs on worldwide TV constitutes a real violation, also because journalists and not the Iraqi military were responsible for this "public curiosity". Slate's sub-headline about Rumsfeld being careful refers to the time when he justified the U.S.'s incarceration of prisoners from the war in Afghanistan, indefinitely and without military or civilian due process, by saying they were "enemy combatants" and not POWs.
Still I find it encouraging that both sides have felt it necessary to avail themselves of the "legal cover" of international law under the Geneva Conventions, not only because it's good for public opinion but because these Conventions are something we can agree on. Indeed I believe this war has not been illegal and could instead be beneficial to the system of international law and justice, simply because a terrible dictator who has concealed WMDs will soon be toppled for his non-compliance.
Bid for street signs
23 March 2003 9:38 PM SGT (link)
Saw this in the ST yesterday ("Forget rings, take this as a sign of my love", page H6), when they reported that someone had bought the road sign of his wife's old address as a wedding gift for her. You know the black-on-white street signs that have mostly been replaced by white on green ones recently? The Streets of Singapore e-Auction was organised by the LTA and Community Chest as a means of getting rid of the old signs and also raising money for the needy. Rules: one sign for each road, minimum bid of $50 with increments of $1, auction begins tomorrow and ends on 30th April. Unfortunately, some of the most well-known signs have apparently been snapped up by companies already:
...Landmark department store Tangs, for example, is willing to pay $5,000 for the Orchard Road sign.
- ST 22 Mar 2003, "Forget rings, tak this as a sign of my love"
Quirky as it might be to own an actual street sign, I think it's a fabulous idea. Too bad Michael Fay and his pals didn't wait for this, because they wouldn't have had to do time & endure the ratan for their street signs now ;-) Although I have some ideas for sentimental street signs for myself (like where I lived when I was young, Marsiling Lane), I don't think I'll bid for any myself.
The North Korea standoff
23 March 2003 9:18 PM SGT (link)
One of the reasons people are opposed to attacking Iraq now is because of the bigger problem of North Korea, which has recently expelled IAEA inspectors and threatened to restart its nuclear-reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, which could allow them to churn out small nuclear weapons for the highest bidder. The Bush administration's stance at this moment seems to be quiet diplomacy, trying to get countries in the region to reopen negotiations with the North Koreans rather than the bilateral ones they want. Jonathan Rauch writes in the National Journal (reproduced in the Atlantic) - Yes, Bush Has a Policy on North Korea. It Might Even Work. - that bilateral negotiations ending up in a second Agreed Framework would be disastrous, and the current stance to push, even force, countries like China, South Korea and Japan to take a pro-active role in dealing with North Korea might prove a better solution. Worth reading as a contrast to the usual editorial calling for the Americans to open direct talks to resolve the dispute.
Gulf War II: Singapore's stand
21 March 2003 11:24 PM SGT (link)
"When the term 'coalition of the willing' was used there was some implication that this implied including countries which would contribute military forces in the war against Iraq. I think the US has clarified now and we have a new term -- the coalition for the immediate disarmament of Iraq," Dr Tan said.
"We allow US aircraft to over fly Singapore, we allow US military assets and ships and aircraft to call at Singapore to use our military bases. We have made these facilities available to the US during this campaign as we did in the campaign in Afghanistan. We have no troops in the theatre of operation and we do not expect that we will send any troops there," he said.
- Channel NewsAsia, S'pore backs Iraq war but not sending troops: DPM Tan
Some of my friends have some misgivings about our nation's support for the US. So I guess not everyone is the kind of Singaporean I described here who's only interested in when it ends so that supposedly the storm clouds will lift and our economy gets back on track.
Due to the confines of my primitive blog, this will seem like a monologue, but bear with me: being in the list of the "coalition of the willing" doesn't mean, as our Defence Minister was quick to say, that we are committing combat troops or even anything to the battle fronts (refer to this ST article for some details on who's committing what). We will probably contribute by providing access to our airspace and naval bases to the Americans, which we've been doing in peacetime anyway. The list primarily serves a political purpose, to show that this coalition has broad international support despite the very obvious objections from France, Russia and China and the fact that an estimated 85% of the troops are American. So I wouldn't get too worked up over our inclusion or exclusion in it. Of course, it's easier for me to accept because I generally support that the war is necessary; note: I'm not for war without justification - who is? maniacs? - but this war seems to be the result, and hopefully the beginning of a resolution, of a long-running problem.
Gulf War II: Day 2
21 March 2003 9:49 PM SGT (link)
- The regularly-updated CNN page for the latest developments. No major problems like chemical or biological attacks yet; let's hope it stays that way.
- Saddam Hussein has not appeared in public or on Iraqi television since the morning of the first day of the attacks, and there's vigorous debate on whether the man who gave that speech was one of Saddam's notorious doubles. The prevailing opinion, released by U.S. officials, say that it almost certainly was him, but Saddam's fate remains uncertain (Washington Post). The U.S. was hoping for a quicker resolution by getting rid of Saddam, something they could not have done - assassinate foreign leaders, - in ordinary circumstances.
- Singapore is in the "coalition of the willing" (ST report), as said by the U.S. State Department spokesman a day after the initial list of 30 was released (see the U.S. State Department press briefing transcript). This resolves the puzzle I talked about yesterday.
- Spinsanity, which prides itself on "countering rhetoric with reason", has published Myths and misconceptions about Iraq, correcting some of the wilder theories from the pro- and anti-war camps. Worth reading.