Hotel destroyed in Baghdad

Hotel destroyed in Baghdad as Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry trade blows over Bush’s Iraq policy.

More horror from Baghdad today, with the Hotel Mount Lebanon destroyed by a car bomb, killing at least 27. There are rumors of Western casualties, but nothing’s been confirmed yet.
Particularly ominous is this initial report from CNN:

Iraqi police and coalition soldiers cordoned off the area. U.S. soldiers from the nearby “Green Zone” attempted to go into the area to rescue victims but were driven back by angry Iraqis.

Later, the troops were able to help the victims.
The Bush Administration said this attack would not change its policy in Iraq.
“We will meet this test with strength and resolve. Democracy is taking root in Iraq and there is no turning back,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
At least he didn’t point to the dead and claim victory. CNN got in some irony points for juxtaposing footage from Baghdad with Vice President DIck Cheney’s speech today (no transcript yet, sorry) at the Ronald Reagan Library and Museum in Simi Valley, Calif., slamming Democractic challenger Sen. John F. Kerry on defense. While Cheney criticized Kerry and claimed he was “ungrateful” to those who served and faced danger, Kerry, in an earlier speech outlining his defense policy at George Washington University, proposed “temporarily” adding 40,000 troops to active duty:

The war in Iraq taught us that a lightening-fast information-age military can drive to Baghdad in three weeks, but the instability that follows requires a large force — and we cannot rely on reservists alone to make up the difference. I propose to add 40,000 troops to the regular Army, not to send to Iraq, but to ease the burden on troops who have been deployed from one global hot spot to the next with no end in sight.

Kerry is wrong on not sending them to Iraq. Another 40,000 might have allowed the U.S. to establish security quickly instead of letting the insurgency attain enough momentum to kill 567 U.S. troops, 101 other troops and God knows how many Iraqi civilians. This is a criminal failure of planning which the Bush Pentagon has yet to acknowledge.
The people of Iraq are still paying the price for that failure a year later.

Kaiser Bush?

Is Bush II really Kaiser Wilhelm II?

Kaiser Bush II?
Man, when Billmon gets on a roll, he really gets going. He draws some excellent historical parallels between the present position of the United States under President Bush and Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm II prior to World War I. For example:

Wilhelm II, however, was a different sort of emperor — insecure and arrogant, inept as a strategist but intolerant of criticism or dissent. He quickly rid himself of Bismark, and embarked on a program of military expansion and aggressive, if erratic, diplomatic bluster. Germany, he proclaimed, must have its place in the sun.

That sounds familiar, indeed.
I mentioned some similar ideas, though not as fully fleshed out just over a year ago “when I wrote”:

This isn’t the start of World War III, it’s the start of World War I — a very stupid war, started thanks to a tangle of alliances, national pride and personal egos involved. It never had to happen. And — again with the irony — WWI is the war that brought the world to this point, spawning the League of Nations, the failure of which led to World War II and the later creation of the United Nations and the Security Council. It also saw the destruction of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Kingdom of Iraq. And let’s not forget the use of chemical weapons — allegedly the reason for the great big army in the desert. It was a war that embodied the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Well, we’ve certainly got consequences now. Isolation, manpower shortages and nigh daily casualties, civilian deaths and a resurgent foe. We’re in for a long year.

Appeasement debate

Who was really appeasing? The Spanish voters or Jose Maria Aznar’s government?

From the Daily Star in Lebanon:

We are in for a very rough ride if terror groups were now to become emboldened and attack civilians in Western countries in order to change their governments through democratic elections, as happened in Spain. On the other hand, it could be argued that the right-wing Spanish government of former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was the anomaly that was grotesquely out of touch with its public opinion, given that a vast majority of Spaniards opposed their government’s joining the US and UK in attacking Iraq. Here’s another question that should be added to the appeasement debate: Did the new Spanish government appease Islamist terrorism, or did the former Spanish government first appease American neoconservatism?

Good question.

Blogger killed in Iraq

Ex-Marine Bob Zangas, a civilian worker for the CPA in Iraq and a prolific blogger, was killed last week in a roadside ambush along with Fern Holland, a lawyer working for women’s rights.

Ex-Marine Bob Zangas, a civilian worker for the CPA in Iraq and a prolific blogger, was killed last week in a roadside ambush along with Fern Holland, a lawyer working for women’s rights.
Zangas’ last post is moving and heartfelt. You may post condolences to the family here.