Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Self-hating Nerd s

Tom Clancy, covering all bases, has a series called Netforce, about government antiterrorist hackers; about which the only remotely interesting thing is how one can write many books about hacking without the slightest interest in any aspect of computing, IT, or hacking. The hackers locate the villain (by such high-tech strategems as reading the carpark signout sheet) and from then on it's all shootout. The authors can drool for pages over the "medusa... three-inch, match-grade, one-in-nine twist barrel, 8620 steel, heat-treated to 28 Rockwell....." (it's a gun) but they really can't face the thought of a keyboard; any hacking that really has to be done is translated into VR so that that, too, can be conducted in Navy Seal mode -
"The back door was made of unpainted wooden planks, crude, but solid. He fished around in his pocket and pulled out a skeleton key. In reality, the key was a password provided by Dr. Morrison... The spring lock clicked open. Michaels quickly stepped inside and closed the door behind him."

It's like reading porn written by Cardinal Newman.


Tuesday, November 16, 2004

War crimes in the second degree.

The New York Times reporting on Fallujah surely constitutes war crimes in the second degree. When the paper says

"Military commanders point to several accomplishments in Falluja. A bastion of resistance has been eliminated, with lower than expected American military and Iraqi civilian casualties. Senior military officials say up to 1,600 insurgents have been killed and hundreds more captured, altogether more than half the number they estimated were in the city when the campaign began.

The offensive also shut down what officers said was a propaganda weapon for the militants: Falluja General Hospital, with its stream of reports of civilian casualties."

- how can any reporter not ask "OK, how many civilian casualities were there?" and "How many did you expect?" and "How do/did you know?"

It's not as if it's information liable to aid the enemy. except insofar as it constitutes 'a propaganda weapon for the militants'. Which is why they don't give it; which does at least make clear that it's not wrong or misleading reports of civilian casualties that justifies closing the hospital, it's any reports at all.

It's a war crime to fire on a hospital. It's a war crime to close a hospital. and it should be a war crime to justify soldiers taking these actions. Which are, in effect, that anything with a red crescent on it is an enemy propaganda unit.

And when the paper says

"Our experience is that, after battles in which they lose many fighters, the insurgents require some days to gather, treat their wounded and try to figure out what to do next," Brig. Gen. Carter Ham ... said Sunday in an e-mail message. "Our job is to work to not let them rest and to not allow them time to reset."

"It seemed clear that any further resistance would have to come from smaller bands of rebels rather than from a coherent fighting force."

- any decent reporter would have asked "What evidence did you have that they ever were a coherent fighting force? What evidence is there that the insurgents in Mosul are the same insurgents as those in Fallujah?" The Americans still expect to fight something with a command structure, rather than something much more like that old American film (loosely based on Xenophon) - The Wanderers? Something with 'the' in it - where a hundred street gangs came together. Look at them on Al-Jazeerah - they're kids who've learned their tactics from Shwartzenegger movies where the hero leaps out with a machine gun and mows down better-armed and better-armoured enemies without any difficulty, which is why they're so easy to kill.

And then, do the math.

"The searches have turned up large caches of weaponry like artillery shells and mortar rounds along with electronics for bombs and mujahedeen literature. Fearing booby traps, the troops generally entered the houses only after tanks rammed through walls or specialists put explosive charges on doors."

250,000 people in Fj, say 5,000 households and 1,000 businesses, 15,000 doors - and how many of them have been blown in? 500? a thousand? How can they search the place without demolishing every house? Or is that the plan? "We had to destroy...."

Similarly, the military say they've killed 1600 of the 3000 resistance fighters. Does this mean they'll end up with 1400 in custody? How many have they captured to date?

The stories are factually impossible, internally inconsistent, and amoral, and by reporting them cold the Times is complicit.

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