November 06, 2003


With time officially out for additional multinational support, the Pentagon announced plan B today... the Marines, which they took considerable care in extracting, will go back into Iraq in divisional strength.

The big problem staring the Pentagon in the face was the February rotation out of the 101st Airborne, last of the original Iraq war units, which could not be further postponed. The push for multinational troops from Turkey and other countries was largely due to this crucial need, as it always seemed unlikely that American troops could withdraw that quickly given the current environment.

When international forces only came up with two of the three divisions hoped for, even after a new UN resolution, this decision became pretty much inevitable. This is going to have a significant impact on American warfighting ability outside of Iraq through 2004 (more or less preventing another foreign ground commitment through to the end of next year and forcing a conciliatory line on Iran and Korea) but it should keep the lid on long enough for other forces to have more time to work in Iraq, at least. The questionmark now moves to the fall of '04, at which point, if nothing else, large numbers of those multinational troops will also be pressing for relief... but changing the plan to bring in the Marines has bought the American government another six months, at least.

Posted by BruceR at 02:14 PM


Another entry in the Canadian terrorism-related news stories... this time a large amount of money going from terrorist group supporters here through Canadian banks to terrorist organizations: 24 suspicious transactions last year, totalling $22 million noted and reported to the authorities by Canada's financial intelligence agency.

The actual report and the news coverage doesn't make this crystal, but this is almost certainly nearly all a product of Canadian Tamil immigrant support for Tamil fighters in Sri Lanka, a conflict that Tamil-Canadians have bankrolled in much the same way that Irish-Americans provided the backbone of the IRA for decades. (My old colleague John Thompson seems to think some Colombian money headed from drug deals to FARC may also be part of this, too.) There's no indication this has anything to do with Muslims, Al Qaeda, or terrorist threats to Western countries.

That of course, doesn't stop the usual suspects from making the usual hay.

Posted by BruceR at 01:35 PM


Found here. Highlights:

*attack aviation (helicopters): "non-existent"
*spare parts: "non-existent"
*special ops: "no information... of any value to the unit"
*PVS-7A nightsights: "all but worthless"

Guess there's still room to improve there. Most interesting from a Canadian perspective is the obvious conclusion that urban war operations are high-intensity by definition, requiring heavy armour far more than dismounted infantry these days... at a time when the Canadian Forces are relinquishing their high intensity capabilities and focussing on training dismounted troops for this role. It'd be interesting to know how the American "Stryker brigade" leadership reacted to this one, as it's their dilemma, too.

Posted by BruceR at 11:53 AM


(See previous post) A regular reader with Nexis ability fleshes out the Iraqification lexicography in Flitters. The original coining now appears to be from the UK Guardian, where a piece with the word in its Observer section on Apr. 6 is the first known usage.

Then, to quote Krusty, for a long time nothing happened.

The word lodges itself firmly in print on Aug. 31, with its first American usage and first usage in a major publication, with this Joe Klein column in Time:

That leaves Iraqification, the third path, which everyone agrees is absolutely necessary. The Pentagon says it is Iraqifying as fast as it can...

Klein also used the term the same day during his appearance on ABC-TV's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," its first recorded appearance in a transcript.

Back in Britain, Jon Freedland from the Guardian used it next, on Sept. 3, referring it to being in usage by "some in the American press," presumably Klein. At home, Molly Ivins wrote "I wince to report" the term was in use on Sept. 5 in her nationally syndicated column, presumably also a reference to Klein.

(The word still wasn't in wide use at this point, as it escaped noted columnist-lexicographer William Safire's attention. On Sept. 9 he coined the word "Iraqi-ization" for the same phenomenon. He followed up on Sept. 28 noting that Iraqification was becoming the preferred term.)

The next usage is of course, the Weekly Standard usage noted earlier (Sept. 22).

So, on the American side of the pond, the lexicography goes:

Joe Klein (Time) --> Molly Ivins --> Reuel Marc Gerecht (Weekly Standard) --> widespread usage in multiple sources, beginning Sept. 28. The point, though, that this is entirely a columnists' construct, and is not a term that has yet been used by any U.S. government source, still seems to hold. So it's still a branding failure. (Where are all the parsers of the word "imminent" on this one, I wonder? This is a far clearer case of message-twisting, or at least message-forcing, by the mainstream press on the government.)

One suspects the liminal origins of the word also have something to do with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and "Californication," particularly given Gerecht's use of it in a sexual pun, as well: "premature Iraqification." Safire's surmise that people didn't glom onto "Iraqization" instead could be due to trying to avoid the implicit Vietnam analogy, as well, but in any case, it hasn't worked.

UPDATE: Check Flitters for a 1999 British usage, in a completely different context!

Posted by BruceR at 10:29 AM