Thursday, 20 March 2003

Iraqi Freedom: Day One Roundup

Well, the so-called “shock and awe” hasn’t been particularly shocking or awesome (although see Michele’s parody thereof), but there’s still some fascinating stuff going on.

  • The live footage via satellite phone on the networks is simply stunning, even if it looks like RealVideo circa 1998. Other TV coverage has been hit-or-miss; the BBC (via BBC America) in particular seems to be spending a lot of time in the studio, as is the CBC (via Newsworld International), while the US-based networks seem to have a lot more field reporting.

  • Some of the live blogging is great; Sean-Paul Kelley has been running continuous updates, while the Command Post has lots of contributors keeping things up-to-date as well. Particularly interesting is the BBC’s weblog (URL changes daily), which has frequent updates from reporters from the field, while Salam Pax has semi-regular updates from Baghdad (at least until the power goes out).

  • Chuck Watson continues to have great satellite images of southern Iraq; he reports that he’s averaging 1000 pageviews/hour.

  • The U.S. peace protests have evaporated and the anarchists and vandals have taken over, from everything I can tell. I can’t say I’m particularly surprised.

  • The Iraqi regime seems to be falling apart as we speak. Good riddance.

It appears that the battle for Basra is imminent, assuming that the Marines are still tasked for that region. We may yet see some shock and awe before the night is through.

Blowing the oil wells?

Chuck Watson of Shoutin’ Across the Pacific has been assembling NOAA weather satellite imagery of the Iraq region for the past few months. Today, he notes the sudden appearance of new smoke plumes near Basra in southeastern Iraq, near the Kuwaiti border.

Also of interest may be the continuous updates on Sean-Paul Kelley’s website (which I inadvertently omitted from my previous post).

CNN is reporting at 10:00 CST that the Pentagon has verified that there are two oil wells on fire in southern Iraq. Advantage: Chuck!

How to blog the war

Dima (now safely ensconsed in his new, Movable Type-powered digs) is having trouble deciding how best to cover the war in his blog. I think, for the most part, blogging won’t be all that important in the early stages, unless there are any “embedded bloggers” out there (ground-pounders like LT Smash are in a good position to report, but they have more important jobs to do), although a bit of live blogging of key events may be useful. It seems to me that analysis is probably the best approach, for two reasons:

  1. Traffic: Most blogs don’t draw enough traffic for “quickie” updates to be all that useful to readers. While you might be able to build traffic by focusing on updates, I’m not sure there’s that big an unsatiated demand out there for it. If there is such demand, I think VodkaPundit and Glenn Reynolds already have it covered.

  2. Perspective: Especially during the early days of the war, Fox News, CNN, the BBC, the major networks, and even the newspapers are likely to be giving very superficial, “what’s happening this instant” coverage. Bloggers may be able to take a step back and give some more thoughtful commentary, or tie some disparate threads together.

But, of course, I could be completely wrong. (Just now, for example, I’m resisting the urge to liveblog Captain Combover’s remarks.)

Chretien has failed the test

The new blog PeakTalk is the weblog of an expat living in western Canada. He's got a great post on the failure of Jean Chrétien and the Liberals to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their biggest trading partner and military protector. As he says:

If you still believe, in spite of the all strong arguments noted above, that after 12 years of arguments and sanctions it is not right to attack Iraq, you may very well make that point, but you lose all credibility if you fail to support your closest friends that are willing to stand up to the source of evil that is confronting the world. With American, British and Australian soldiers likely to die in the next few days, the least you could do as a friend and ally is to express some level of support to your friends and especially to your closest neighbor who also happens to be your major customer, in this case buying 85% of everything that you export abroad. And not only that, that southern neighbor also provides for your security as you have miserably neglected to do anything about your own defense and you have indicated a considerable degree of unwillingness to integrate security arrangements for a North American perimeter that might have benefited the security of your and your neighbor's citizens. The legacy of Prime Minister Chrétien is that he has relegated the status of a once powerful nation like Canada to that of a completely irrelevant bystander that even in times of acute danger can not bring itself to support those that are willing to contain the danger and are taking on the dirty work.

There's lots more. In particular, the failure of the Chrétien government to cooperate in creating a so-called “secure perimeter” has been a remarkably short-sighted development that has set back the development of NAFTA and stalled the integration of the North American economy, hurting economic growth in both the United States and Canada.

In terms of Canadian domestic politics, I am not as confident as PeakTalk that this will undermine the Liberal government. Due to the highly fractured nature of Canadian politics, it is hard to imagine any credible alternative to the Liberals emerging in the short term, at least until the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives (Tories) come to some sort of arrangement and are able to campaign effectively in Ontario. On the other hand, far stranger things have happened in Canadian politics—the wipe-out of the Tories in 1993, for example—and after a decade in office, Chrétien is overdue for being turfed out onto the street.

Fisking a DM columnist

Patrick Carver has kindly laid down a Fisking of this rather idiotic column in Tuesday’s Daily Mississippian.

Phoenix + Xft + Gtk2 + Xprint build

I‘ve produced a new Phoenix build for Linux. This build adds support for the Xprint extension, which substantially improves printing under Linux. Download it here in bzip2 format. Like the earlier builds, it also supports the Xft font renderer (which allows subpixel rendering, similar to Microsoft's “ClearType”, for LCD screens) and is built against Gtk 2.0.