Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Eh, I'm still alive. Just in something of a strange mood. I had something written up about the Terminal, Spielberg's current feel-good movie about a real-life debacle of Kafkaesque, bureaucratic depravity, but my strangeness and a slip of the mouse consigned it to the bitbin. Suffice it to say, Spielberg is at his worst when he is most lovable, and the best part of the movie was not Hanks' traveller-saint, but rather, Stanley Tucci's miserable, brilliant tyrant of a bureaucrat. Maybe it's just that I saw this movie a couple weeks after watching Big Trouble on DVD, but Tucci has really been impressing me recently. His clever malevolence is quite charming.

The Bush people screwed the press right royally yesterday, and you can hear the teeth grinding in DC and Manhattan from up here in the mountains. Or maybe that's the lawnmower in the next lot, I don't know. Be interesting, in a horrible, sickening sort of way, to see if the bastards blow everything up on schedule tomorrow, regardless of the actual facts of the turnover and the fait accompli. Hopefully the scrambling is producing decent sigint for the Coalition.

That's one reason that the surprise turnover was such an excellent move - it seizes the initiative from the terrorists at the moment when they're committed. The 30th deadline has been in place for so long, and was so vital to the political symbolism of the conflict, that the terrorists absolutely had to drop the hammer, spend their resources. Those operations are in progress as I type, indeed, as they sprang the turnover, as Bremer made for the airport. The resources are spent, the operatives deployed. The terror generals now have a choice. They can back down and decommit - recall their forces, recover deployed resources, back down. They can go forward, and spend blood, money and equipment in an attempt to maintain face - maintain balance by swinging as if the propaganda target was still there. They can go forward, and try to convert the planned propaganda attacks into the real thing - a true offensive.

I don't think they have the depth or the capacity to wage a true offensive. In truth, they've got the first two options. Option one will leave them terribly off balance, forces too far advanced to recover, intel resources exposed by recovering other operatives in the clear, everything in motion, and returning to possibly-compromised safehouses, or even safeharbors. Even worse, the people in charge will have lost face. The al Queda terror networks operate largely in an honor economy. There isn't enough money to seriously motivate anyone - the financing is a matter of logistics, not morale. Resources flow to the terror-lords with the biggest brass ones - the guys who can blow up the big bombs, rack up the megadeaths, personally decapitate prisoners on air while declaiming poetry in Classical, Koranic Arabic. Face is important, and a step-down loses Zarqawi bucketloads. I think the attacks will go forward, for the honor of it all.

Christ, I hope they're braced for it in Baghdad.

No comments: