Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Friday, February 21, 2003
No Blood for Oil

Look at this fairly typical rant against a possible war in Iraq:
By Susan Winger
Democracy In Action

Contrary to what he would have you believe, President Bush's plans to invade Iraq have nothing to do with such high-minded goals as liberating the Iraqi people or saving the world from terrorism. His "principled" stand is actually just a thinly veiled attempt to gain control of the oil-rich Middle East at the cost of human lives. It is time for the people of the United States to rise up and say, "No blood for oil!"

Bush talks about freedom, but what kind? The freedom to drive gas-guzzling SUVs without worrying about the price of gas going above $2 a gallon? If we go to war, innocent lives will be lost to satisfy Generalissimo Bush's insatiable gaslust and line the bulging pockets of the corporate and oil interests that put him in office.

We've got to stand up and make our voices heard. This war is not what most Americans want. What's more, Bush is acting against not only the will of a majority of Americans, but also the will of the world. France and Germany have demanded to see more evidence of Iraq's attempts to conceal weapons of mass destruction, yet Bush continues to ram his warmongering agenda down everyone's throats, all for his precious black gold.

The president claims that Iraq is "a danger to the world," but it is the U.S. that represents the real danger. We are the ones who act like bullies, intimidating those who don't go along with our imperialist agenda with threats of invasion and worse. Unlike some countries I could name, Iraq never dropped an atomic bomb on anybody. The bottom line is, Bush has no right to wage a "preemptive" war against Iraq.

The White House continues to beat the war drum, frightening the American public into believing this war is necessary for the safety of the world. Bush is trying to scare up support for an invasion under the pretense that Saddam intends to unleash chemical, biological, or nuclear warfare on his enemies, but there is no real evidence that these are his plans. There is real evidence, on the other hand, that President Bush was put in office by Big Oil and would do anything to avoid having to develop responsible, earth-friendly alternative energy sources.

Most offensive of all, the tragic events of Sept. 11 are being manipulated by Bush to further his agenda. Under the guise of the "war on terrorism," Bush has declared that members of his "Axis of Evil" are a threat and subject to military attacks. Is it coincidence that the one Axis of Evil nation Bush has singled out for attack also holds the greatest opportunity for profit? I think not.

Let the U.N. inspections work. No blood for oil!

Noticed anything funny or unusual about this text? No? Well, it says a lot about the extent to which these arguments have been discredited that the source for this article is none other than The Onion, a satirical website specializing in spoofs of various genres.

I Love the Internet

I was reading the web forums for a certain WWII strategy game, and somebody mentioned that there had been plans back then to 'build' an aircraft carrier out of... ice!
Twenty seconds of Googling later, I came up with this page: The Iceberg Ships. Nifty story!

Funniest... 404 Error Message... Ever!

Cannot find Weapons of Mass Destruction

Thursday, February 20, 2003
Red Blue Tape

For some time now, a convention under the leadership of Giscard d'Estaing has been working on a "European Constitution". A draft has been announced, and now member states have had a chance to propose amendments... / World / UK
The broad thrust of about 1,500 amendments was to maintain the European Union's centralising push, with calls to preserve references to "an ever closer Union", promote the "European social model" and work towards common defence.
Remind me again, how many amendments are there to the U.S. constitution?

Brilliant Video Clip

Watch this video: it made me feel the way I did when I was still trying to convince my now-former-anti-war friend and I was grilling him with questions. Unfortunately, the video doesn't show the interviewer convincing anyone: Protesting the Protesters.
(So what if InstaPundit already linked this, it's that good!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2003
U.N.: Beacon of Freedom? Not!

Check out this graphic showing the comparative freedom enjoyed in the countries that make up the security council. Score another one for the anti-U.N. lobby.

Yay! Convinced One!

Yesterday night I was chatting on IRC with someone I know. I pointed him to the webcam directory on my server, and that's where he found the banner that's a couple of posts down. The anti-peace-march one, with the dead people, you know.
So we started talking about it: at first he was very surprised. "A pro-American? You? Here in Belgium?"
But then, we got down to the finer points and arguments. I asked him what his solution to the current Iraqi crisis would be. His answer went something like: "Well, you know, ...". So I told him I didn't "know". What would he *do*?
It turned out that he wanted Saddam deposed, because that was probably a good idea. But who should do the deposing then, I asked. Again: "Well, you know..." Patiently I explained I didn't "know". "Oh, U.N. blue-helmets, probably. But which countries are in the blue--helmets anyway? You probably know better than I do"
So I explained that any country can donate troops to act as blue-helmets: as long as they were acting under a U.N. mandate. And gee, so he was in favour of using an *army* to depose Saddam? With guns and all? Oh, look, there's an army assembling in Kuwait, right next door. So if they could just paint their helmets blue, everything would be okay then?
No, it wouldn't, because it would be under "American leadership". Oh, but if the U.N. would vote a resolution then, would it be okay then?
He guessed it would.
Next, I asked him what to do if the U.N. didn't vote such a resolution: say, if France would block it or something. Would that be more important than the Iraqi people?
"But France would never block such a thing!", he said.
I quickly gave him a reality check, and explained about TotalFinaElf and the 'Iraqi blood for French oil" argument.
Now it was my turn to ask a question: it obviously seemed like he wanted for Saddam to be deposed, just not by American troops. Why? Did he think it would matter to the Iraqi's who would liberate them or why? Did he think the Americans would cause more casualties than say Russian or Turkish troops? Or that they would treat their prisoners worse than the Taliban would have?
It was at this point that he asked if he could use the banner grapic in his signature on MSN! "Your're right", he said, "We get way too much reflexive anti-Americanism here in the media and from public figures."
Score one for the liberation of Iraq!

Tuesday, February 18, 2003
Interesting Mail

I just got a rather interesting mail from a guy called Brian, and I will post my reply here:

Hello fellow blogger,

My name is Brian and I'am a student in Social Science who is conducting research into Weblogs for my Honours project at University.
I was wondering if you would take the time to answer a short questionnaire about your experiences as a blogger.
I would greatly appreciate it if you would answer the questions. Just type your answers under the question. If you don't have the time then it is no problem.

Thanks, in anticipation of your reply, Brian.

p.s. feel free to forward this e-mail to any friendly bloggers you know who may be interested.


Q1. i) How long have you been Weblogging? :- months/years
See the dates in my archives in the left sidebar: less than a year.
ii) How often do you post to your blog? :-
Two or three times a day, if I manage. Almost never on weekends.
iii) How many Weblogs do you have? :-
iv) Please comment on whether or not the number of people who actually visit your weblog is important to you?
Yes, I check my stats almost compulsively ;-) It is a nice feeling to know people actually read this stuff, and I've received some very interesting reactions (including two from professional journalists so far).

Q2. i) What is your reaction to feeback, whether e-mails or comments, form your readers?
I love it, and try to answer most of it. Doesn't matter if it is positive or negative.
ii) How sensitive are you to the nature of the feedback (i.e. encouragement’s and/or criticisms) from your readers?
I love it when a comment makes me think, or gives me inspiration to write something (back). I also like it when people send me interesting links or stories to post. I've never felt bad about a negative comment or mail I received, because most of it is positive and this outweighs the odd negative ones. No matter what you do, it will always attract criticism.

Q3. Please comment on the importance of image, or the maintaining of standards (i.e. how good your weblog looks; how well written your postings are), to you when updating your weblog?
I try not to make too many spelling or grammar mistakes: English is not my native language, but a text full of mistakes makes it harder to read and conveys a negative message to the reader about the capacities of the author, even though it might only be at a subconscious level. I don't bother too much about the lay-out: I selected a simple Blogger template and added some frills: I try to go for interesting content, not for looks.

Q4. i) Has your weblog helped you to focus on your own inner goals, or helped you to identify personal interests in any way?
Uh, wrong kind of weblog... this is not about me and my cat (I don't even have one)
ii) What would you say were the personal rewards you get out of blogging?
The feeling of having contributed to the global debate, however small my contribution might be. Offering people a view on Belgium which is hard to get from traditional media. The joy of meeting new and interesting people on-line.

Q5. When updating your Weblog do you believe you are projecting a balanced picture of your character, or do you find that you are projecting a particular aspect of your character?
Uh, wrong kind of blog again... This is not about me, but about politics, Belgium, the U.S., computers,... whatever strikes my fancy.

Q6. What would you describe as being your main focus (i.e concern for how your audience perceives you; how best to articulate your thoughts) when you update your weblog?
I want to be a valuable source of information with a bit of entertainment thrown in now and then.

Americans and Antwerp

Last Sunday, me and my girlfriend went to Antwerp, Belgium's biggest port city, located close to my home town. As we were nearing it, suddenly we saw five helicopters flying by in perfect formation, heading for the docks. Undoubtedly, they were part of the American forces coming from Germany and heading for the Gulf region through the port of Antwerp.
All of this is happening while a group of people in Antwerp protest, holler and whine about this, threatening to block the entire port if needed, chaining themselves to military transport trains and painting 'No War' on the side of one of the transport ships.
As my girlfriend and I strolled next to the water of the Schelde, over at the main riverfront of the city, we noticed a small monument, not very far from the shipping museum. On it were the numbers and designations of a few dozens of American anti-aircraft battery units, sent to Antwerp during WWII to protect it against German V-bombs.
When I compare that to the ruckus made by the Belgian government over the past week about defensive support for Turkey, my stomach turns.

Monday, February 17, 2003
Dissident Frogman Reacts to the 'Peace' Protests

My feelings exactly:

Help spread this banner!

Bill Whittle Does it Again!

Another super-long post on Eject! Eject! Eject!, titled 'Courage'. Talks about Columbia, terrorists and being a pilot, and so much more... Go read it: it gave me goosebumps and sent shivers down my spine.

More Info

As I drove to work this morning, Guy Verhofstad, the Belgian Prime Minister, was on the radio explaining this 'Great Diplomatic Victory' for Belgium. No, NATO was not going to help attacking Iraq, and we were going to send defensive support only to Turkey.
Funny, but I don't seem to remember NATO ever being asked to help attacking Iraq... probably because most NATO armies would just be in the way anyway. But Belgium has made really, really sure that they won't have to fight. Quite a victory indeed!
Meanwhile, U.S. military transports through the port of Antwerp continue, hampered only by the occasional spy terrorist dictator-loving idiot peace-activist chaining himself to a train.


It seems like Germany and Belgium changed their minds decided to pursue a bold and new policy: - NATO approves planning for Turkey's defense - Feb. 16, 2003.
I haven't read any other reports yet, but I can't wait to hear Louis Michel's explanation for this. For those of you just tuning in, Louis is the dictator appeasing foreign minister of Belgium, who likes to shake hands with the likes of Castro, Arafat and Kabilla.
Anyway, could my American readers please tell the U.S. Air Force that their planners can stop looking for Belgium on a world map, because bombing won't be needed... for now ;-)