Can’t help it. It’s really becoming fun to deconstruct Riverbend. I’ve got nothing else to do here when off-duty…why not?
The Red Cross is especially important at this point because they are the ‘link’ that is connecting the families of the detainees and the military. When someone suddenly disappears, people go to the Red Cross and after a few grueling days, the missing person can often be tracked down at one of the prison camps or prisons.
Note that no concern is expressed about those who “disappeared” under Saddam. Why, it’s as if it didn’t happen! Was the Red Cross located in country then tracking down Iraq’s desparacidos? Why no concern for those people?
The easy and naive thing to do would be to blame the whole situation on fundamentalists/extremists/terrorists/loyalists/ba’athists/foreigners which many people, apparently, think are one and the same. Another trend in western media is to blame the whole of them on the ‘Sunni triangle’ and ‘neighboring countries’.
The “easy and naïve thing to do” Note the logic error. It would be “easy” to do because well, it’s often true. Even locals think so. She does have one point however, not all these groups are the same and maybe should not be lumped together. Their end is the same, but their motivations are all different. But then again, maybe they are. Maybe they are. We don’t know for sure.
There are *several* groups orchestrating the attacks against the various targets. The first and most obvious indicator is the method of attack, while the second indicator is the variety of the targets.
The techniques being used in the attacks range from primitive, to professional. We hear that some of the explosive devices being used are home-made and uncomplicated, obviously made by amateurs. We know for a fact that there are high-tech attacks against Coalition headquarters- like at the Baghdad International Airport and some of the palaces where high-ranking army personnel are located. On some of these places, like the airport, missiles are being used which is an indicator that the source of the attack is a highly trained group.
Wrong, wrong, wrong, couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. First, for those who’ve had the pleasure of actually having a shoulder-fired missile launched at them while taking off from Baghdad airport [show of hands please] you can be thankful for one thing – the people launching them are complete amateurs. Thankfully, they are not trained on how to use them. It’s not as simple as picking one up and squeezing the trigger, like you’d do with a rocket propelled grenade (RPG). Not really sure where Riverbend got her training in intelligence work, but her conclusion there involves multiple errors in logic. Terrorists use the weapon they have at the moment they have them. It requires motive (which they have in spades) and means (which they take as it comes). You cannot automatically assume “if the weapon is sophisticated, so is the terrorist.” On this point alone the rests of the logical structure of her entire argument in the rest of the piece – and it just collapses here on down.
In an October 8, article in the New York Times (now archived) Raymond Bonner points out:
But portable missiles were fired at incoming planes several times in recent weeks, one senior official said. Most of those incidents have not been reported to the public. The missiles missed their targets widely, suggesting that the people who fired them had not been extensively trained…Moderating security fears is the fact that the portable missiles cannot be fired effectively without training. American soldiers go through a seven-week course to qualify to use the missiles and then are required to requalify quarterly.
The “professional” terrorists groups like Islamic Jihad use both cellular phone detonated bombs with Semtex or C4 (rather sophisticated) and plain ole garden variety suicide bomb vests. So right there her argument that you can tell a terrorist by his methods goes straight out the window.
Also, explosions at the airport (or anywhere else) are not always terror attacks. The U.S. military does controlled explosions of ordnance (both unexploded ordnance from the war and weapons caches found around the country) on a regular basis. This leads to the curious phenomenon of hundreds of people checking their watches simultaneously when they hear an explosion to see if it is a regularly scheduled controlled detonation. So Riverbend seems to be assuming anytime she hears a “boom” it’s the bad guys coming for the Americans. Ummmm, not so much, no. Mostly ’cause when they try they die in bunches. Hence the resort to the weapon of the impotent — terror attacks.
One of my uncles lives in one of the areas closer to the airport, which is on the outskirts of Baghdad. During June, we spent a couple of weeks with him. Almost every night, we would wake up to a colossal explosion that seems to be coming from the direction of the airport and less than a minute later, the helicopters would begin hovering overhead.
Syntax error and then pick your own logic error. It’s completely unrelated to the rest of the paragraph which it was in. What exactly is she trying to say? Because she heard a boom in the night she knows what is going on here? In fact, in June is when the greatest amount of controlled detonations took place out at the airport because there was a major league push on to get the airport up and running quickly. Which means it wouldn’t do to have a lot of unexploded ordnance lying about. By the way, helicopters run patrols around the airport literally 24/7. There is ALWAYS something flying there day or night.
Another example of a high-tech attack, was the attack on Rasheed Hotel a few days ago, where Wolfowitz was shocked and awed out of a meeting. (I don’t understand why the CPA is trying very hard to pretend the attack had nothing to do with his presence there).
Ummmm….actually he was on his way to breakfast. The CPA is probably “trying very hard to pretend” mostly because there is absolutely no evidence that the attack had anything to do with Wolfowitz’ stay at the Rasheed. If some turns up, maybe CPA’s assessment will be revised. But this is probably not the case. Why? Because the security zone near the Rasheed is so tight it probably took the attackers a few weeks to observe patterns in order to decide when best to attack. This implies preparation time. It is highly unlikely that the attackers had good intelligence on when Wolfowitz would be here (most the U.S. military in country didn’t even know he was here until after the attack). Besides, you don’t have to be James Bond to figure out the Rasheed is an obvious target without or without a Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary present. So to imply that the attackers had superior intelligence when — according to Occam’s Razor we should actually go with the “obvious target” scenario – violates yet another rule of logic. (Anyone keeping count here?)
The attack on the Rasheed was most emphatically not high tech. Clever, yes. Primative, yes. High tech, no. It doesn’t take a degree in physics to take some rockets (which are a dime a dozen in this country) throw them into an improvised rack system and hook them to a car battery. But when your definition of high tech is skewed you tend to think anything built after 1950 is high tech. Saddam thought his air force was high tech too – please note the unchallenged U.S. air superiority in both Desert Storm and this war.
The suicide bombings, on the other hand, are more often attributed to fundamentalist groups. To say that these groups are fighting to bring back the former regime is ridiculous: People chose to ignore the fact that the majority of fundamentalists were completely against the former regime because members of Al Qaeda, Ansar Al Islam, Al Da’awa and other political fundamentalist groups were prone to detention, exile and in some cases, execution.
Partially true. The fundamentalist groups couldn’t care less about Saddam. They just want to kill Americans. But here’s a point that Riverbend doesn’t seem to understand. The fundamentalist groups didn’t come here to provide jobs, fix the water system, refurbish electrical plants, pave roads, reconstruct schools, provide text books, provide 2.2 million vaccinations, truck in medical gear to get hospitals up and running. They came here to quite literally fight against progress. Yet all groups seem to be treated with the same kind of moral equivalence.
… Bombing works, terror works. People here are terrified we’ll end up another Afghanistan that these fundamentalist groups the CPA is currently flirting with are Iraq’s Taliban.
I can’t even dignify this by fisking it. It’s so patently asinine that it’s not worth the time. Go ahead, accuse me of a logic error there. I’ll take the hit on that one.
Finally, there are all those strange, mystery attacks that no one understands and even the most extreme members of society can’t condone or legitimatize. One such attack includes the attack on the UN headquarters. No one claimed responsibility for that. Another such attack was the bombing of the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad the Red Cross, the police stations… Many people believe that Al-Chalabi and his party are responsible for such incidents. Some of his guards are trained terrorists…
Or a more plausible explanation is that both the Red Cross and the UN are seen as Western agencies and were “soft” targets.
Al Chalabi arrived in April with a militia of Free Iraqi Fighters who, after several weeks of car hijacking, a few abductions, and some even say assassinations, suddenly disappeared his 600+ thugs were supposedly ‘interpreters’. I have very limited information on them, but someone said they were trained in Hungary? Today, people think they are acting as a sort of secret militia responsible for many of the assassinations and explosions all over Baghdad.
A “militia?” Thugs? Oh man, soooooooooo wrong. Not even close. We need internpreters and folks who know the local scene and that becomes a “militia” akin to the Badr Brigades? Wow, talk about a flight of fancy. Actually, the U.S. Army does this in Korea too with the KATUSA program (Korean Augmentation to the U.S. Army). Are those Korean kids thugs too?
Yeah, Chalabi did it. That’s it. That’s a tactic straight from “Politics of Personal Destruction for Dummies.” GIVE ME SOME EVIDENCE. All you have to do is throw a spurious charge out there and you call that evidence? No one remembers the answer; they just remember that the question was asked. You know, sorta like asking someone in court, “So when did you stop beating your wife?” (Wait, that’s sort of taken as a given in the Middle East. Never mind.)
One of the hallmarks of this blog (hers, not ours) is that she never entertains alternate, plausible explanations for other events. And we’re supposed to take this seriously? Bias is one thing. That’s fine. Everyone gets to have an opinion. But provide an answer to the critics, at least, will ya?
Spare me the comments about how we need to cut her slack because she’s been oppressed. If you post ’em, I’m just going to delete them. You might as well call her a five-year old too and then treat her that way. What could be more condescending than saying she needs some help because she’ doesn’t quite “get it”? Because that is, in effect, the attitude behind the whole “cut her some slack crowd.” She’s responsbile for her ideas and defending them. The problem is, she can’t. Welcome to the big leagues, baby. How you like democracy so far?
Numerous posters, including the even-tempered Zeyad have e-mailed her and she doesn’t deign to provide a response. If it was one or two, that’s one thing. But numerous people have pointed out that they’ve tried to engage her via e-mail and have been blown off.
To me, that’s a sign of someone unable to hold two contradictory thoughts in the mind at the same time. Which, in turn, is a demonstration of an unenaged mind. Or, put another way…