September 02, 2003


If I can interrupt the rambling discourse for a bit, I really need some help with a project I'm working on at the University of Toronto. It's still in its early stages, but the focus for me right now is drawing up a list of bloggers and people who read lots of blogs (including, I suppose, this one, obviously) with some U of T connection.

Obviously there's myself and Prof. Farrell... I'm sure there's lots of others. If you'd count yourself in that number, if you could drop me an email or a note in Flitters with your blogworld particulars and your U of T identification, I'd really appreciate it. I'm particularly interested in developing a list of student bloggers and would-be bloggers. (I promise any info provided will be kept in confidence.)

Posted by BruceR at 05:03 PM


Good piece in part on the Polish-led mini-division in Iraq in the Times, marred only by this unfortunate sentence:

But a look at the multinational force taking over from the Marines shows that this is not a homogenous division...

A multinational force using multiple nations? Those crazy foreigners...

In other multinational troop news, Robert Kagan says the unsayable... there's not a lot of depth even among the multinationals. Marshall says he's pessimistic, but I'd say Kagan's actually being optimistic... I don't see any real prospect of a sizable contribution (ie, brigade or larger) from Pakistan at the moment, and the Turks' price for the 5,000 or so troops they could easily spare seems too high to pay. France is locked up in the Ivory Coast, and Germans are still taking the lion's share of the burden in Kabul, so they're both out.

That just leaves India as the one country that could conceivably provide sufficient troops to make a dent in the Americans' coming February-April replacement delta. It hasn't been said enough that whenever people talk about going to the UN, or broadening the coalition, they really mean winning over the Lok Sabha. Trouble is, given their history of fighting and dying all over the Old World as British proxies in two world wars, they're probably one of the countries most sensitive about the whole loss-of-national-command thing.

UPDATE: And don't miss the devastating must-read in Slate on what postwar Germany was really like. As I've said before, the trouble, you see, is all the lying.

Posted by BruceR at 01:14 PM


More from D., with ISAF in Kabul:

Sept. 1:

Here are a few pictures. One is what a sandstorm looks like as it thunders through Kabul. The sun turns into a giant haze and the sand is fine, like talcum powder. It goes down windows in waves, exactly as water does on a window in a carwash...

The little girls are happy because we have just finished building and dedicating their playground. To the left is a German soldier (combat engineer), and no his gun is not pointing at them, that is the spout from his back portable water bottle (Camel Back). The children here are very happy now that singing and dancing is not punishable by flogging or execution.

This was the first time I have dressed for combat and stood at the front of a classroom, although when I was teaching accounting, it may from time to time have been appropriate... This is a school built by the Soviet Army as they invaded. It did not do well in the last civil war and the Taliban reduced it to one floor and took all the windows, doors, plumbing and wiring. The wiring is stripped right out of the wall over the blackboard (actually black paint on concrete). I was out there that day with my partner, a sergeant in the Army Reserve... Like me, he is on a leave from his [civilian employer]. Thanks again [boss]!!!

...The German combat engineers we took with us were busy shoring up a roof that was going to fall on the kids' heads, so I entertained some of the kiddies by teaching them English. I also put on an impromptu Jackass and magic show for them and simply pretended I was back in my fraternity... The kids were howling with laughter. The crowd eventually grew to about 40 and some of the little folk really got into it. Says a lot for them that they can stand in a bombed out school yard while some armed fool teaches them how to count and say cloud, airplane, three hats and other useful things.

The best result of all was that the parents who were watching warmed up to me, so we won a little victory for building a good relationship between the Canadian Army and the locals. It is part of the on-going "battle". We must do our best to not be an invading force, but a firm, fair and friendly security force that makes a peace that can then be enforced and kept by later missions. But first, there is the matter of the Taliban and that is to me nothing more than high level pest control.

Posted by BruceR at 10:32 AM