Move Update

Seems like most of the world’s DNS servers have got the news that TTLB has moved. Good for them.
I’m a bit occupied with my first week on the new job, so don’t expect any major posting until next week (or perhaps the weekend). (The new job is going very well, I’m happy to say, for those of you who are curious).
But next week, there’ll definitely be some new action around here — or perhaps I should say, [hint]some old action returning…[/hint]

Server Move In Progress

This post is on the new Hosting Matters site
Yup, TTLB is up and moving over to Hosting Matters. (It seems the thing to do these days). So if you observe any odd behavior in the next day or so, that’s probably why.
A question for the peanut gallery: I had to export all of my MT entries and re-import them over on the new site. After some pain, I’ve managed to do that successfully. But, I’ve realized that now all the URLs are different for the posts (MT doesn’t export/import the actual ID of a post).
If there is any way to do the export/import differently, I’d welcome suggestions. But my assumption is that there is not.
So, I’m looking for an easy way to remap selected posts (popular ones I know folks have linked to heavily and the most recent posts) from the old-permalinks to the new ones.
To facilitate this, I’ve put my new archives in an archive directory, whereas the old ones weren’t. So I’d like to be able to create a set of rules that map pairs like this:
http://www.truthlaidbear.com/001726.html
to
http://www.truthlaidbear.com/archives/000959.html
And then have a default rule which, if none of the others applied, would redirect to the front page.
I’d prefer not to have to create a seperate .html file for each redirect, so I’m hoping perhaps there is an elegant way to use a mod re-write rule or other such magic to do this.
Any suggestions on best methods for accomplishing this?

Blogcritics Critiquees

Blogcritics has announced the awards for the first annual Critiquees: check out the links below to see who in the music world is favored by the ‘sinister cabal of superior bloggers’:
Album of the Year
Song of the Year
Songwriter of the Year
Rock Album of the Year
Country-Americana Album of the Year
R&B Album of the Year
Jazz Album of the Year
Electronic Album of the Year
Soundtrack Album of the Year
Reissues and Collections of the Year
Best New Artist

Salon DeathWatch, Part Infinity

Has anybody else noticed that the click-through “Day Pass” ad for Salon.com has been from Salon Personals for, well, a while?
This can’t be generating business-model-redeeming revenues.
Once I realized how quickly you could click through those ads (about five to ten seconds total time) without actually reading them, I went back to browsing Salon regularly. Unfortunately, I think advertisers have figured this out too.
PS – An alternative explanation is that Salon is pimping their personals hard because they think that is how they’re going to generate some cash. This is not mutually exlusive with the “nobody else wants to buy the Day Pass ad” theory, of course: both could be true.

Keep An Eye On ‘Em, Eugene

Speaking of privacy, Eugene Volokh just announced in an aside that he’s now a member of the “Privacy Committee of the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board”:
MICROSOFT PRIVACY COMMITTEE: I’ve just joined — together with a bunch of leading privacy law people — the Privacy Committee of the Microsoft Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board, and our first meeting is today and tomorrow. I’m off to Seattle this afternoon, and won’t be blogging much today or tomorrow. My cobloggers, however, will still be posting.
Most interesting! Keep ’em honest, Eugene…

Subpoena? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Subpoena

First posted 2/17/03
LawMeme has a scoop on how eBay makes life easy for law enforcement. Maybe a bit too easy:
Without a subpoena, eBay will provide the following information regarding an eBay user to law enforcement:
Full Name, User ID, Email Address, Street Address, State, City, Zip Code, Phone Number, Country, Company, Password, Secondary Phone, Gender, Personal or Business, Shipping information (Name, Street Address, City, State, Zip)
In addition eBay will provide the following transaction information:
Bidding History on an Item, Other Items for Sale, Feedback about a user, Bidding history of a user, Prices paid for items, Feedback rating, and Chat Room/Bulletin Board (!).

Read the whole thing: I sense a you-heard-it-on-the-blogs-first level story here: expect Slashdotting momentarily (if it hasn’t happened already), soon to be followed by News.com notice, and eventual movement to the front page of Google News.
Update 2/18 9am PST Story hits Top-50 on Blogdex
Update 2/20 11am PST Bing! We have Slashdottage. With a Big Media link to Haaretz, of all places.

Warblogs.cc : Serving All Your Anti-War Needs

For the war skeptics among TTLB’s readership (you know who you are), here’s an interesting new site combining the powers of some of the Blogosphere’s most vocal anti-war voices. From the e-mail announcement of Warblogs:cc :
Starting immediately, readers of Back to Iraq, Warblogging, Daily Kos, Agonist and Stand Down: No War Blog will no longer be forced to skip from site to site for news on the war on Iraq, terrorism and civil liberties. I

Small, Revolting Men

Since September 11th, Americans have struggled to understand the enemy that confounds us.
The simplistic have assumed that we truly face a clash of civilizations. That America stands on one side of a great divide, with a hostile, opposing society on the other, with a vast gulf of incomprehension ensuring the two will never meet.
Wiser voices, however, have observed the truth: that we face not a clash of civilizations, but a civil war within a civilization that is being exported to our shores. Our enemies seek to control their society; to dominate their own culture. To do so, they strike the pose: they lash out at America and all it stands for. They compete to establish themselves as the most bold in their defiance of Imperial America.; the most fearless in their unwavering opposition to U.S. power. In so doing, their hope is not so much to bring us low — though it is that — but to raise themselves and their own backward ideas up within their own civilization not on their merits, but on the strength of their anti-American stance.
And so it should comes as no great surprise when you see Jacques Chirac telling the nations of Eastern Europe that they should just shut up. It’s all part of the struggle that he, and leaders like him, are waging within European civilization. Faced with the intractable failure of their own ideas, they’ve latched onto a formula to preserve their own political power: oppose America. In their ‘defiance’ of American power, these little men hope to distract their followers from their own petty nature, and cling to political life for just a little longer.
Oh, sorry. Did you think I was talking about something else?

An Employed Bear

Notice something missing from the right sidebar?
I know, it’s been there for what seems like an eternity. Blends in with the background; your eye had long since learned to just skip over it automatically.
A plaintive cry for help… a blatant plug so pathetic in its earnestness, it might as well have simply said “will manage for food.”
But now it’s gone.
Yes, that’s right: your humble correspondent is no longer a useless barnacle on the creaking steamship of the American economy. As of next week, I rejoin the ranks of the gainfully employed.
After many moons of searching, I’m happy to say I’ve found an excellent position, with an excellent company, down here in lovely SoCal. As is my custom, I won’t disclose more than that, other than to say it’s a great opportunity, and I am looking forward to regaining my claim to be a Productive Member of Society.
As for what this will mean for TTLB: not much, probably. It is a certainty that I’ll spend less time blogging, and reading other blogs. But with regards to my actual output — and the quality thereof — it’s hard to say. I am one of those folks who tend to accomplish far more when I’m under general time pressure, so it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if y’all could barely tell the difference when I do start punching the clock again.
But at any rate: I’ve no intention of retiring from the field anytime soon. So don’t get your hopes up!

If You’re British and Don’t Support Saddam, You’re Just Nobody

Note to British TTLB readers: Would one of you please ring Moira Redmond and have her over for tea, or whatever the appropriate English social ritual is? She needs to get out more:
This weekend I made an extra trip to London to attend the massive anti-war demonstration there.. I have never known a political controversy in which it was so hard to find the other side: You can talk to friends, acquaintances, chance-met fellow shoppers or other passengers on the train, and you will never meet anyone who supports the war whole-heartedly…
Let’s do a little experiment: if you are British, and support military action against Hussein, leave a comment here, even if it’s just an “aye!”. And for fun, let us know where in the isles you’re writing from, if you don’t mind.
Perhaps I’ll send a note to Ms. Redmond once we’ve assembled enough signatures. Not a petition, per se: more like a “clue care package”, as she seems in rather dire need of some…
-NZB

Cross-Blog Iraq Debate: Pro-War Roundup

Editor’s Note to Google / Yahoo Searchers: Welcome! If you’ve found this page because you’re searching for weblogs about the Iraq conflict, you’ve come to the right place. Or at least, a right place. If you are new to the world of weblogs, then a double-welcome to you: you are about to discover one of the most rewarding information sources in existence today. We aren’t professional journalists (well, most of us) — but sometimes that’s a good thing!
I am N.Z. Bear, and this is my humble weblog. The post you see below is from a grand experiment in which webloggers from the pro- and anti- sides came together for a structured debate to exchange ideas and argue their respective positions. I coordinated the pro-war side of the debate, and Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq coordinated the anti-war side. The debate had several parts:
The Call for Questions
Publication of the Questions
Publication of the Answers
If you just want to cut to the chase, I suggest going right to the answers, as that’s where you’ll find the actual arguments made by myself, and many, many other webloggers.
If you are looking for more up-to-the-minute news, I highly recommend The Command Post, a collaborative weblog being updated continuously, 24×7, with the latest breaking stories on the conflict.
And of course, I hope you’ll check my own front page for my latest take on recent events, and browse the sidebar for my past “greatest hits”. And if you don’t find what you are looking for, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
Again, welcome!
-N.Z. Bear
March 27, 2003


Ok folks: it’s been full while it lasted, but all good things must come to an end. Below you will find the final roundup of all pro-war responses to the Cross-Blog Iraq Debate.
Update: The Anti-War roundup is now available at Stand Down.
Where a response was reasonably brief in length, I included the full answer: for longer ones, I tried to exerpt a relevant summary passage. I encourage everyone to follow the links & review each blogger’s full responses, of course.
At final count, thirty-seven bloggers chose to respond on the pro-war side: an outstanding turnout! Thanks to all who participated.
And now, your answers…
1. Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a “pre-emption” of a threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?
Patio Pundit: “There isn’t. In a world without WMD and terrorists “pre-emption” would be a bad idea. It still is, but it is preferable to the alternative — annihilation. We gotta do what we gotta do. It sucks, but there you have it.”
Right Wing News: “Yes, there is a difference between invading a nation that threatens the safety of your citizens and invading a nation in hopes of making material gains from the conquest. We make this sort of distinction all the time. Shooting a burglar who breaks into your house and menaces your family is good, shooting someone because you want to steal their car is bad…”
Blogmonger: “The dictionary defines pre-emption as: -Relating to or constituting a military strike made so as to gain the advantage when an enemy strike is believed to be imminent. Or: -Undertaken or initiated to deter or prevent an anticipated, usually unpleasant situation or occurrence. The policy of pre-emption seeks to avert aggression from nations and organizations who have no reservations against launching attacks against innocent civilians, or from using their military power specifically to grab land and resources. Examples of this include Iraq’s campaigns against Iran and Kuwait, or Nazi conquests during World War II. In both these examples there was no threat to Iraq or the Nazis from the nations they subjugated. Both regimes simply desired to conquer and loot the countries they invaded, in an attempt to fuel their aggressive policies. This is the key difference. The United States does not seek to invade Iraq for the purposes of acquiring the spoils of war; it only seeks the protection of its citizens.”
No Prerequisite: “There is most definitely a difference between an aggressive war and the type of pre-emptive war being suggested by the United States. An aggressive war, such as that carried out by Nazi Germany, is pursued with the objective of making gains, territorial or otherwise, without any sort of legitimate provocation by the country (or countries) being attacked…”
Heretical Ideas: “Most certainly. A war of aggression is one that is fought for the purposes of conquest and/or destruction. For example, the Nazi invasion of Poland was an aggressive war. Its only purpose was for Germany to conquer Poland. Serbia’s invasion of Bosnia was an aggressive war. It’s purpose was the creation of a Greater Serbia and the genocide of Bosnian Muslims. Pre-emptive warfare, on the other hand, is waged when there is a reasonable belief that another nation plans to wage an agressive war, either against the nation waging pre-emptive war or one of its allies. For example, the American invasion of North Africa and later Europe during World War II was pre-emptive because neither Germany nor Italy ever attacked the United States. But they had attacked American allies and it was reasonable to assume that they would attack the United States, since they had declared war against the United States…”
Robin Goodfellow: “Contrary to the beliefs of some “post modernist” thinkers, not all people are equal (to clarify, the difference is their histories), nor are all countries, nor are all actions. There has been a tendency in recent times to boil down actions into their simplest forms devoid of context and then attempt to compare them morally, as it were, on that basis. Context does matter, and it matters greatly. A gun in the hand of a murderer is a very much different threat than a gun in the hand of a police officer. Pre-emptive attack by a trusted state with a strong history of respect for civil rights and civilian safety is much different from aggressive invasion by a state with a history of brutality and oppression. The US has demonstrated time and time again that it has been willing to peacefully give up land that it has “conquered” or occupied back over to local rule without demanding “spoils of war” or anything of that sort…”
Red Letter Day: “I do. Aggressive warfare is affirmatively going out and conquering nations in order to add them to your empire or plunder their resources. Pre-emptive warfare consists of a limited attack against a country that represents a legitimate growing threat. To take two examples from World War II, Germany attacking Poland was a war of aggression. Poland represented no threat, present or future, to Germany. On the other hand, imagine the French and English attacked Germany in 1938 after growing alarmed by its militarism. That would be a preemptive war.”
Derek James: “All warfare is aggressive. But if the question is asking whether there would be a difference between deposing a tyrant who has continued to develop WMD against the terms of cease-fire and the will of the international community, and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait…well yeah, there’s an obvious difference. In the early 90’s, Iraq invaded Kuwait, member of the U.N., a sovereign country, in order to conquer it and annex it. That was wrong. Military action against Iraq now would not necessarily be “pre-emptive”. There are punitive elements as well. The justification is: You refuse to comply with cease-fire agreements from the end of a war you started, you continue to develop WMD against the will of the international community, and you commit atrocities against humanity…and guess what? The international community will take action to depose you.”
John Tabin: “I

Cross-Blog Iraq Debate: N.Z. Bear’s Answers

Well, it would be a bit of a cop-out if I didn’t answer the questions posed by the anti-war side of the Cross-Blog Iraq Debate, wouldn’t it?
And so, sliding in just before tonight’s deadline, here are my own personal answers.
1. Attacking Iraq has been publicly called a “pre-emption” of a threat from Saddam Hussein’s regime, whose sins include launching regional wars of aggression. Do you think there is a clear and reliable difference between pre-emptive and aggressive warfare, and if so, what is it?
War to depose Saddam Hussein would be a pre-emptive action to prevent his future misdeeds. But it would also be a simple continuation of the war which he initiated over a decade ago. Hussein invaded his neighbor, and was rightfully repelled by force by a coalition led by the United States. He signed a cease-fire agreement meant to end that conflict, and since, has consistently failed to fulfill his obligations under that agreement.
It would be nice if the United Nations would formally recognize that he has done so and clearly authorize further military action, but it looks like that’s not going to happen. But the United States has already stuck its neck out in this conflict: we are the ones who bore the burden of the first war, and it’s consequences — now, we’ve got Iraq pissed at us, as with much of the Arab world. So, given that we are likely to pay the price for Hussein’s violations of the cease-fire, I don’t feel any obligation to wait for further U.N. blessing . Perhaps under international law the cease-fire agreement was technically with the U.N., and therefore only the U.N. can follow up on it. But that’s nonsense, in reality: the cease-fire was agreed-to by Hussein to stop American forces from deposing him, and for no other reason — and therefore, I think it is reasonable for the United States to reserve the right to determine, on our own, if the cease-fire has been violated — and take action based on that decision.
As for the difference between pre-emptive and aggressive: it is a difficult line to draw, and one that can only really be identified by examining the motivations of the parties involved. I’d say a just pre-emptive action is one taken where a major motivation is to remove a danger to the attacking country, and any material gain to the attacking country is a minimal consideration. I do not consider a war to depose Saddam Hussein to be aggressive, because I believe our motivations are a) To remove a threat to us b) To liberate an enslaved people and c) To set in motion a chain of events that will remove other threats to us in the region (and liberate other peoples). I’m not even convinced material gain enters into the equation; it sure seems like we may well run a loss on this gig.
If you really want to know my explicit theory of when war is justified, then you should read The Bear Doctrine, an old post where I explain the rules I think should be followed to determine if war is just. Briefly, I believe the U.S. should consider military force against a foreign power when:
1) That power has demonstrated that they are hostile to the U.S. and its citizens, either by directly attacking us; by threatening or planning such an attack, or by supporting other actors who have executed or have threatened such an attack.
or
2) All of the following are true:
a) We have the means to decisively execute such a military operation without significant casualities, to our own forces or to innocent civilians.
b) Deposing the regime is clearly in the best interest of its citizens, and our intention is to establish a democratic government upon completion of the operation.
c) Such an operation is in the selfish best interest of the United States (economically; politically, etc.).
I think Iraq clearly qualifies under both sets of tests.
2. What do you feel are the prospects that an invasion of Iraq will succeed in a) maintaining it as a stable entity and b) in turning it into a democracy? Are there any precedents in the past 50 years that influence your answer?
I don’t know whether a U.S. invasion / occupation of Iraq will succeed in maintaining it as a stable entity. But I challenge the assumption that Iraq being a stable entity is by definition a good thing. The Kurds in the north would almost certainly prefer to have their own homeland (although they are being browbeaten into accepting less). The Shia in the south might well prefer to be part of Iran.
From a strictly humanitarian standpoint, it seems to me that allowing self-determination among all the people of Iraq might lead to it breaking up. On the other hand, the geopolitical realities in the neighborhood may provide reason for the U.S. to prefer Iraq remain intact, at least for the near future. Thus far, it seems reasonable (given the statements and actions of the Kurds, as my primary example) to expect that Iraqis will be willing to remain together in a single nation, if they are encouraged to do so by the U.S. and its allies.
And yes, I think that’s legitimate, at least for the near term. Setting up some kind of federal, democratic Iraq with large doses of self-determination for the northern and southern regions sounds just fine, particularly if it is made explicit that perhaps five or ten years down the line the union might be re-examined (at which time independence for those regions might be considered).
As for the prospects for democracy, that’s easy: I absolutely believe democracy can succeed there. As for examples, look to the north and see the society the Kurds have established once Saddam’s boot was removed from their throat. Or, look to the east, and see the vast progress being made in Afghanistan.
3. How successful do you think the military operations and “regime change” in Afghanistan have been in achieving their stated objectives? Does this example affect your feelings about war in Iraq in any way?
Mostly, although not completely, successful. The primary objective was to eliminate Afghanistan as a base of operations for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. I think Afghanistan has been significantly reduced as a base, but not completely eliminated. I’m dismayed that we haven’t gotten better cooperation from the Pakistanis, and that the lack of full support from them has allowed Al Qaeda/Taliban remnants to continue to operate in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Capturing or killing bin Laden was also clearly an objective, and frankly it’s rather hard to know whether we achieved that one. Lots of folks seem to think he’s dead; but then again, we’ve got these wacky tapes coming out every now and then. I don’t claim to know, so I can’t really say if we succeeded in this one.
Another objective was shifting Afghanistan from a virulent theocracy to a stable democracy: and there, I think the progress is excellent. More needs to be done, for sure, and it will take decades to truly repair Afghanistan’s society. But I challenge anybody to argue that the current government is not far, far better for the people of Afghanistan.
My bottom line assessment? I’d give Afghanistan a “B”. We achieved many of our goals — but it’s important to note that we did so with very little negative impact at all. Yes, there were civilian casualities, but arguably far fewer than would have died under the Taliban anyway. And the “Muslim backlash” never materialized. So given that we racked up quite a few positives — a liberated people, significant decrease in use of Afghanistan as a base for al Qaeda, bin Laden either dead or in hiding — I’d say the experience was quite a positive one.
As for how this affects my feelings on Iraq: it certainly makes me feel that it is possible to remove a vicious government by force and replace it with a popular, semi-democratic one. I think we could take a lesson from Afghanistan that we still aren’t great at continuing focus on countries like this after the fighting is over — while I disagree with those who say we are “ignoring” Afghanistan, I do think we could and should do more to help their recovery.
4. As a basis for war, the Bush Administration accuses Iraq of trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear), supporting terrorism, and brutalizing their own people. Since Iraq is not the only country engaged in these actions, under what circumstances should the US go to war with other such nations, in addition to going to war with Iraq?
Glad you asked! See my doctrine above, under Question 1. But the quick answer is: when we can do so without causing more harm (casualties to our military, to our civilians, and to other nation’s civilians) than we’d be preventing. I don’t know why folks who oppose war against Hussein keep bringing up North Korea and asking why we don’t invade them — because a) They can flatten Seoul with artillery, killing hundreds of thousands, and b) They might just have nukes, so they could do it even faster. Military force is not an option, there — or at least, it’s a really dangerous one.
When you stop and think about it, the anti-war folks should take note of this. If those who supported war against Hussein were truly the insane, risk-seeking warmongers you make us all out to be, we would be calling for massive invasions of North Korea and whoever else pissed us off. But we’re not — because believe it or not, we do understand risk, and we only support war when it genuinely is the least risky alternative.
5. The Bush Administration has issued numerous allegations about the threat represented by Iraq, many of which have been criticized in some quarters as hearsay, speculation or misstatements. Which of the Administration’s allegations do you feel stand up best to those criticisms?
Well, this is a weirdly phrased question, but I guess if you filter out the biases in the phrasing, the question really is “What are the best arguments that Iraq is a threat”?
Look, the history that Iraq has been developing chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons for decades is clear. If you don’t accept that, I can’t really help you; stop reading now. If you do accept it, however, you have to assume one of two things. Either Hussein has had a sudden change of heart, after a full decade in which we know he deceived weapons inspectors, and is now honestly and truly committed to disarmament. Or, he’s not, and he’s still the same liar he always was, and he’s still committed to getting these weapons.
I believe the latter. And I do not believe that weapons inspections will be sufficient to prevent him from retaining the weapons he has — or developing new ones.
Further, I don’t believe that Hussein is “deterrable” in the traditional sense. Or, to be more precise: I’m not willing to bet my life on it. I do not feel comfortable that , hey, Saddam will never give weapons to al Qaeda, because he’s secular, and al Qaeda’s Islamic! By that logic, Hitler never would have collaborated with the Japanese, because they weren’t part of his master race. Enemies put aside their differences to fight what they perceive to be a greater enemy: and guess what? We’re the greatest enemy in town these days.
So just on that basis alone — the possibility that Hussein would provide weapons to terrorists — I’m not willing to let the guy stay in power. It’s just not worth the risk.

Watching the Hans & Mohamed Show Online

I’m assuming that the same stations which provided online video streams for Powell’s U.N. presentation will do so for today’s report. So check out WNBC (Windows Media).
Update, post-Blix: That was a bloody train wreck. I think David Frum was correct: Blix’s report is a much bigger factor in the future relevance of the U.N. and NATO than in the probability of military action against Iraq. I’d like to think our erstwhile allies in France and Germany didn’t need a figleaf to hide the climb-down that they now find necessary to avoid being completely shut out of the future of Iraq — but I think Frum is right to think they did. Blix didn’t hang the U.S. out to dry — he hung them.
Update, as the Syrian Rep Is Ranting on an Anti-Israel Tangent: The feeling that I am watching a pivotal moment in the Leagalization of the United Nations is inescapable.
Update, as France continues to blather on: I give up, I can’t watch this. Somebody e-mail me when it’s over.

Please Shut Up. I’m begging you.

My buddy Mohamed is opening his mouth again:
“I think we still have a chance if we continue with our work, if Iraq provides full cooperation, we should still be able to avoid a war,” said Mohamed ElBaradei, who will also present a report to the council.
In other news, ElBaradei stated that if he was provided the appropriate sphincter-enlargement and implanted with genetically mutated winged simians, “We indeed have a chance that monkeys will fly out of my butt.”

Jonah: 1
French: 0

OK Corner groupies: If you want to listen to Jonah Goldberg beat up an actual Frenchman, then you should hop over to KCRW’s program page for To The Point.
They are generally quite prompt about posting an archived RealAudio version of each program right after it is done airing, so figure a little after 2pm PST it will be available.
PS – Congrats to Jonah & Mrs. G on the birth of their daughter, Lucy!
Update: Without withdrawing my best wishes above, I feel compelled to note that sometimes Jonah can be a real asshole.