September 30, 2002



Instapundit is pointing to John Giuffo's piece criticizing loony lefty cartoonist Ted Rall, today. If anything, Giuffo is too kind... specifically in the section below:

Foot enters mouth again in his "Postmodern War Heroes" strip from March 11, when he portrays an imagined moment somewhere in the decades ahead, when veterans of the Afghanistan campaign are trading war stories. "That's my old buddy Joey from Queens, New York ... died in a helicopter crash," says one melancholy G.I. to another over beers. They then wistfully recall ... Brenda and Ken, who each fell out of helicopters. Aside from his typically inhuman coarseness toward the loved ones of those service members who died in accidents up until that point (is he implying that their grief is any less real or less justified because they didn't die at the hands of the enemy?), the strip really starts looking depraved when viewed after the combat deaths of eight U.S. soldiers during the Battle of Gardez. Of course, the strip is an implied jab at the lack of ground troop usage up until that point in the war, but he could have avoided his embarrassing shortsightedness had he thought ahead and realized that his premise might look ridiculous if just one U.S. service person subsequently died in combat.

No, no, John, it's much worse than that. The Gardez fighting, which began when a U.S. serviceman fell out of a helicopter, and a rescue chopper subsequently crashed was on MARCH 4. Rall's strip insulting the dead came a week later. Eight American soldiers had "died in combat" on March 4. Rall knew that, took measured aim, and spit on their graves.

Posted by BruceR at 04:32 PM



Important article from the leading journalistic expert on Afghanistan today, in the Nation. Two interesting revelations, if true: the U.S. has given the greenlight to the rest of the world to increase the scope of the ISAF peacekeeping force if they wish, but only so long as no American troops are involved; and second, that the Taliban remnants have teamed up with the extremely dangerous Hekmatyar faction against the Karzai government. If true, and left unchallenged, Karzai's life and Kabul's relative peace can be measured in months, if not weeks.

Posted by BruceR at 01:14 PM



(See below.) Gary Farber comes back at my take on his piece attacking Gregg Easterbrook, who said chemical weapons were not as effective as we think, and bioweapons are still an unknown quantity. His points have merit, and are certainly worthy of reply here. I sent this email off to Gary this morning:

Thank you for responding with such civility, Gary. I know you didn't have to, but you've always set a higher standard for polite blogging discourse, and while I may disagree with this one article of yours out of the hundreds I've read, I'd tell anyone who asks you've always been a class act.

With regard to Unit 731, I would argue their various attempts to "seed" plagues on captive villages -- and the disastrous end of war release of their lab rats you refer to -- also counted as experiments on a captive and subject population. For instance, the Japanese would isolate a Chinese village, station soldiers around the perimeter to keep people in, introduce cholera, deny all medical care, and then see how fast people died. Obviously, if any country (or terrorist) could exert that level of control over a group of Americans, they could be extremely deadly, whether they used gas, a bioweapon, automatic rifles or machetes. I don't believe those kinds of warcrimes conclusively establish the efficacy of bioweapons as a whole, however, so I don't believe they impeach Easterbrook's point that they're still a unproven quantity.

As to the relevance of the 1918 influenza epidemic, I have to insist that it's rather unfair to cite the worst epidemic in all recorded human history as evidence of what a bioweapon is LIKELY to do. If "regression to the mean" means anything, one can be fairly certain that at least the first few attempts at bioweapon use will be far far less destructive than that. A 1988 CDC survey of four states over a five month period recorded 77 epidemics of communicable disease, of which 51 affected less than 10 persons (the largest causes were Hepatitis A and Salmonella). Even if man-made epidemics were 10 times as effective as nature, it's possible many of them might only rise above that kind of "noise" if very carefully engineered, or done in a way that is extremely obvious (such as mailing media outlets with anthrax). I agree with Easterbrook that recent movies like "Seven Monkeys" and "Outbreak" have taken liberties with the realities of disease control and created an image of biowarfare out of synch with the proven reality.

As I said, I also agree with Robert Wright that these weapons are only going to become more and more effective with time, though, and more certainly needs to be done in this area. This is why many of us were so disappointed with America's withdrawal from the Biological Weapons Convention this year. Rather than trying to create an international consensus against these weapons, Bush policy at the moment is encouraging their propogation.

Posted by BruceR at 10:17 AM



Local soldiers got the first hints of how the Army Reserve restructuring plans could affect units in this province over the weekend. As the details slowly trickle out, the whole plan, even as a rough draft, seems ever more eminently sensible and militarily sound... in conjunction with the new Regular Army Strategy earlier this year, this initiative would make Canada's land forces infinitely more well-rounded and useful to the nation than they are now. Make no mistake: the generals have a plan, and it looks from this distant perch like a solid one. It's the politicians, apparently happy with Canada spending less on defence than any other country in NATO, who boast about our reputation as peacekeepers when 33 other countries provide more peacekeepers than we do... it's they who are holding things up now. Just a moderate (10 per cent) increase in defence spending could turn a lot of things around. But meanwhile, the plans for how to build Canadians an effective army will have to go back on the shelf, cause that's simply not going to happen so long as the Liberals run this country. Just hope we're not needed for anything important in the meantime.

Posted by BruceR at 02:03 AM