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Monday, April 14, 2003

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Can of Whuppin'-This has been a busy 72 hours; I didn't have any blogging time on over the weekend, so I'm playing catch-up on the news. The Iraq war seems to be truly in garbage time, as Tikrit fell with "less resistance than we anticipated." Ever since the US made the move in metro Baghdad, the Iraqis haven't covered the spread. At this point, the issue seems to be turning to restoring order and tracking down the last of the holdouts. Some of the holdouts seem to have snuck over in fellow Baathist Syria. Whether we wind up getting phase two of Operation Baathwater may depend on how much Syria is helping and whether the US wants to take advantage of having a lot of troops in the neighborhood. The US is talking trash about Syrian misdeeds, including a chemical weapons capability; however, the US just showed that they can walk the walk as well as talk the talk. Before the war started, I would have figured the chances of Operation Baathwater actually occurring would be about 2%, it's gone up to about 30%. I remember one generally-pro-war blogger (I'll link to it if I find it) pointed out that the ease of our win might encourage more such wars of liberation; an easy Iraqi win might have the White House wanting to play double-or-nothing. One thing it might have done is hit the North Koreans over the head with a clue stick; they're now talking about multilateral talks when before it was just-with-the-US-or-nothing. Another positive move that might be caused by the show-of-force is a possible solution in the West Bank coming from Sharon; a retreat from settlements in return for giving up the right of return to Israel proper. With the US in the region, this might be something that a more-moderate Palestinian faction might accept. If the US removes Syria and Lebanon from play, or at least get them to behave a bit better, it gives Israel a spot to negotiate from strength.

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