Monthly Archives: March 2003

The World-Wide Web at War

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Maps. Graphics.Video, all the scenes and sounds of war–a mere mouse-click away. From those Civil War days when crowds gathered outside the local telegraph office for news, through the radio dispatches from World War II and the TV coverage of Vietnam.

Now, we’re watching war play out in real time, with streaming video on the web. Log on to one site and you can watch the bombs fall on Baghdad. Click another to read weblogs: the on-line journals and diaries from the home-front and the battlefield. Some dismiss these alternative war sites as the work of computer geeks with too much time on their hands, others praise them for countering the mainstream media and keeping it honest. Choosing the news and judging the accuracy of the new digital town crier.


Dean Wright, Editor in Chief of

Howard Finberg, Presidential Scholar at the Poynter Institute

Sean-Paul Kelly, Founder of weblog at

Reading the Enemy

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“We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land…” Those were the words of Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan, after four American soldiers were killed this weekend by a suicide bomber at a military checkpoint.

The guerilla tactic is one more example of what General William Wallace, (the man commanding U.S. forces in the Gulf,) described last Friday when he said: “The enemy we’re fighting is different from the one we’d war-gamed against.” It’s also clear that the Iraqi forces are simply more determined to resist the U.S. than most of the senior planners predicted. It points to some failed assumptions, or some missed intelligence as to just why the Iraqi military stands and fights.


Owen Cote, Associate Director of MIT’s Security Studies Program and Co-Editor of International Security and adjunct Lecturer at the JFK School of Governement at Harvard University

Thomas Houlahan, Director of the Miltiary Assessment Program of the William R. Nelson Institute at James Madison University and author of “Gulf War: The Complete History,” and a regular contributor to UPI

Keith Richberg, correspondent with the Washington Post, located in Basra.

Marching Home

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It was another time, and another war. One Saturday morning every month, through the early 40’s, a military bus came to Freehold New Jersey to pick up the latest group of young men heading off to the Second World War,
900 in all, from this one small town.

Kevin Coyne has written a book which tells the stories of six of these men; stories that cover 4 continents, and many seas and oceans. The veterans tell stories of the wildest biggest battles, and the tiniest features of life away: a letter from home, taking a break to have a smoke.

Many things have changed since WWII, what hasn’t is that inevitable gap between those who watch the war from a distance and those who fight it. A conversation about what every war means to anyone who’s ever fought one.


Kevin Coyne, author of “Marching Home” and Professor at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

Stu Bunton, A World War Two Veteran.

The Al-Jazeera Effect

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The world, it seems, is watching two different wars. On Al Jazeera and Arab-language television, there is a war with pictures of Iraqi children, frightened American prisoners, bodies of dead soldiers, ferocious bombs exploding over Baghdad. With the exception of showcasing those big bomb pictures, most of the major American networks are covering the war through the eyes of embedded journalists reporting on the movements, morale and technical superiority of U.S. troops. Each view is incomplete. It’s impossible ever to be completely unbiased. But this sharp division of images is adding to the deep rift between the United States and the Arab world.


Gebran Tueni, Editor of An-Nahar newspaper, Beirut, Lebanon

Mohammed el-Nawawy, co-author, “Al Jazeera: How the Free Arab News Network Scooped the World and Changed the Middle East”

Anthony Shadid, Washington Post reporter, now in Baghdad

Khaled Al-Maeena, editor, Arab News, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Barbara Plett, BBC reporter, in Gaza.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

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Lyndon Baines Johnson didn’t shy away from confrontation. “If two men agree on everything,” he once said, “you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking.” Striking words from an American president whose formidable political career was shaped by his ability to build consensus… and eventually undone by a lack of it over the war in Vietnam. When Johnson took over the Oval Office after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, it was a loaded inheritance. He had a legacy to honor: Kennedy’s commitment to a civil rights revolution. He had a Great Society to build: And a Cold War commitment to keep: to battle the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia. Lyndon Baines Johnson: conflict and character.


William Leuchtenburg, William Rand Kenan
Professor of History Emeritus at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of “In the Shadow of F.D.R.: From Harry Truman to Bill Clinton”

David Gergen, Professor of Public Service at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Mr. Blair Goes to Washington

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One week in and the war is turning out to be different from the one that Tony Blair and George Bush expected. The fighting is fiercer, and those flowers and sweets from grateful Iraqi citizens are slow in coming. Today, the two are meeting at Camp David. Prime Minister Blair, enjoying a fresh swell of public support for the war, wants to “get America and Europe working again.”

To Blair, the key to this rapprochement is in persuading President Bush to have the UN play a central role in rebuilding Iraq and, at the same time, to press ahead with the roadmap for Middle East peace. But as important as is it is for Blair to apply his diplomatic duct tape, it is still unclear if President Bush, still smarting from his last run in with the United Nations, will give Blair what he’s asking for.


Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Counselor of the Department of State serving under Madeleine Albright, Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs serving under Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

The Politics of Aid

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One military officer refers to it as “the gear in the rear”. That’s how they’re describing the truckloads of humanitarian aid destined for Basra’s more than one million citizens.

In a city under siege, where electricity and water shortages are making bad living conditions worse, it’s anyone’s guess when that gear might have the chance to do good. And in a conflict taking unexpected twists, there are increasing concerns about the military’s ability to wage war with the enemy, and provide sustenance to its citizens. There’s a fear that humanitarian objectives are ranked too low on the military’s To Do List in Iraq. Meanwhile, the military insists that relief in Basra is just days away. Beating back the bad guys, and making good with the people.


Gethin Chamberlain, Reporter in southern Iraq for The Scotsman newspaper

Roberta Cohen, co-director of the Joint Project on International Displacement at the Brookings Institution

Fouad Bawaba, International Committee of the Red Cross spokesperson in Kuwait.

All Roads Lead to Baghdad

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The latest news from Baghdad, bombs land in a market where civilians had gathered, as many as 15 dead, 30 injured; it’s the sort of news everyone feared. Iraqi residents of the capital city have already endured a week of bombing, and the prospect of fighting inside the city is drawing closer.

American commanders have gone to great lengths to target their weapons to avoid killing innocent people and doing anything else that could further anger Iraqi citizens. If the fight for Baghdad becomes a street battle, U.S. generals don’t want the residents joining the Republican Guard to attack Americans soldiers. It’s already clear that Iraqis in other towns and cities are willing to stand and fight, making the prospect of urban combat in Baghdad ever more likely. The complexities of a modern day street war.


Colonel (Retired) Randolph Gangle, Executive Director of the Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities (CETO) in Quantico, Virginia. Prior to CETO, he was the Senior Advisor to experimental operations at the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab – focusing on urban battlespaces

Daryl Press, Associate Professor of Government at Dartmouth College and Expert on Military Strategy and the future of warfare

Jon Lee Anderson, Reporter for The New Yorker and based in Baghdad.

Dreaming of Democracy

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With U.S.-led forces closing in on his hometown of Baghdad, Kanan Makiya says he is both elated and worried. For many years he’s been plotting what he calls the de-Baathification of Iraq. By that he means not only getting rid of Saddam Hussein, but getting rid of all the corruption and corrosive influences of the President’s Baath Party.

For months now, Makiya has been negotiating, and cajoling and insisting on the right of Iraqi exiles to build a democracy once Saddam Hussein is gone. Though he still faces squabbling among the Iraqi opposition, his biggest battles have been with the U.S. State department and American officials who think that the U.S. military ought to run Iraq in the months after Saddam Hussein’s departure, and still the debate is not over, we look at the options for Iraq, after war.


Kanan Makiya, Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University, and member of the Iraqi National Congress.