December 31, 2004 // by admin

EMANCIPATION DAY Tonight, many of us will celebrate in the time-honored tradition of high spirits and good-fellowship, the arrival of 2005.  One hundred and forty-two years ago this night, people across the continent also welcomed the passing of the old into the new–many of them with a joy they had not believed possible.  These were […]


December 29, 2004 // by admin

PILGRIMS’ PROGRESS Blocked by tour buses disgorging streams of passengers, cars approaching the Al-Askari mosque in Samarra slowed to a halt. Normally unflappable in even the worst traffic, my driver Dhia slapped the dashboard. “What they couldn’t do with soldiers in the war, they’re doing with religious pilgrims!” he snarled. “They” were Iranians. One of the untold […]


December 29, 2004 // by admin

TRIBAL ISLAM WATCH III   Fodder of the Bride We’ve all heard of the abominable practice of FGM, or female genital mutilation, but yesterday’s Wall Street Journalacquainted us with an additional  horror inflicted upon women in Arab countries:  gavage.  Not the force-feeding of geese, but the intentional fattening of teen-age girls–particularly in the African country of Mauritania–in order […]


December 27, 2004 // by admin

IRAQ, DISCONNECTED Khalid’s story is not the only bad tidings originating from the Land of Ur this Yuletide season.  On December 22, Contrack International announced it was terminating a $325 million agreement it had reached with the U.S. to repair Iraq’s roads, bridges, railways and ports.  According to military officials, the Arlington, Virginia-based firm based its decision, […]


December 27, 2004 // by admin

VOICES FROM IRAQ Recently I received an e-mail from Khalid, a journalist I met in Basra, where he was an up-and-coming reporter for one of the city’s largest newspaper.  At the time, he was a very pro-American young man, who, like many Iraqis, felt anxious–but excited–about the future of post-Saddam Iraq.  His correspondence, therefore, came […]


December 27, 2004 // by admin

IN OSAMA’S FACE Don’t it just make you yearn for the good old days?  Now, lest you think you’ve linked to James Lileks by mistake, I thought I’d make a point by posting these images of Cap punchin’ Adolph’sschnozzola (interestingly enough, this comic book came out in February 1941–10 months before Pearl Harbor) and Bugs doing a short-arm […]


December 24, 2004 // by admin

MEMO FROM MALIBU Although its efforts have proven maladroit in the past, the United States is determined to provide Iraqis with entertaining “alternative” media to counter the effects of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia.  What follows is a State Department memo, given to this site by an anonymous source, detailing America’s latest effort.  WARNING:  this is highly […]


December 24, 2004 // by admin

LIBERTY BONDS A late-night post on this, the eve of our second wartime Christmas.  After the buying and the decorating of the tree, the flurry of shopping and wrapping of presents, the eggnog and cards and parties, Warrior Woman and I found time to sit by the glow of a candle-lit creche and reflect on […]


December 23, 2004 // by admin

WHEN SUNNIS GET BLUE Whistlin’ Dixie Like most newspapers, the New York Times’  editorials embody the “something must be done” school of analysis.  That is, they urge immediate action on some issue, in an Olympian tone that suggests the tragedy certain to befall if their views are ignored.  By the same token, these 10-point equivalents of an ancient Greek […]


December 22, 2004 // by admin

COMBINED ARMS It’s a rather dispiriting press conference when the President defends Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and criticizes the Iraqi army, but so be it.  The more important issue, at least in the short term, is what Bush termed the Iraqis’ “mixed success” in fighting paramilitaries without  U.S. support.  Indeed, other than the peshmerga soldiers of Iraq’s 36th Battalion, […]