Flower and Olonga, cricketers and men of principle
There's a big story on sports and politics afoot, and not only has the American Press whiffed on this one, but so has the world of political blogs. I'm talking about Zimbabwe and the Cricket World Cup.
Two of Zimbabwe's best cricketers, Henry Olonga and Andy Flower, are protesting against the Zimbabwean government. Just before their first match, Olonga and Flower released a statement to the press condemning the repressive policies of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe
This must have taken real courage. Mugabe's government does not treat dissent leniently, and fame offers little protection. Even the leader of the political opposition is on trial on trumped-up charges. Olonga's stand is particularly embarrassing for the government, since he is one of the country's few prominent black cricketers. For Olonga, moreover, it may mean the end of his sporting career. His club team in Zimbabwe have already suspended him, and he can have little hope of playing for Zimbabwe in future World Cups if Mugabe stays in power. (Flower plays for a county club side in England, and was expected to retire from international cricket after this World Cup in any case.)
On top of this, the English team are refusing to play their World cup match against Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe. Their public position is that security in Zimbabwe is not up to snuff, but poitical protest is certainly a factor as well.
Incidentally, Tony Blair has not come out of this well at all. On one hand, he is urging the English Cricket Board not to let the team play the match, but on the other, his government are not willing to cover any of the tens of millions of dollars the Board are likely to lose if Zimbabwe -- and possibly South Africa also -- boycott future tours of England in protest.
I told you so
A couple of months ago, I debunked Peter Beinart's wishful thinking about how invading Iraq would undercut al Qaeda. According to Beinart, the best propaganda attack that Osama bin Laden has going for him right now is American troops in Saudi Arabia, whose presence supposedly sullies the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Beinart argued that an invasion would allow us to get the Americans out of Saudi Arabia, and let us station them in Iraq instead.
I pointed out then that this idea is a loser. Baghdad is the traditional capital of the Islamic caliphate. Osama wants to revive the caliphate. So occupying Baghdad would be even worse, given Osama's ideology, than being a few hundred miles away from Mecca.
Well, in his tape this week, what was the first thing that Osama complained about? Yep, he warns about "the crusaders' preparations for war to occupy a former capital of Islam."
You read it here first!
A short thought on the dishonesty of the Bush Administration
The Bushies say we must attack Iraq but cannot attack North Korea because Kim has nukes and Saddam doesn't just yet.
On the 7th of September last year, however, Dubya said an IAEA report showed Saddam was just six months away from having the bomb.
OK, let's forget for a minute that Dubya's allegation has been debunked. Let's especially forget the later Bush attempts to place the report in 1998 or 1991. After all, if Saddam was that close to getting nukes that far back, he would certainly have them by now, which would make hash of the administration's distinction between Iraq and North Korea. Let's do the Bushies a favor and assume they were warning that Saddam would have a nuclear weapon six months from the beginning of September.
Well guys, that would put the ETA of Saddam's nuke at the end of February. It's pretty clear that we are not going to attack in the next week. (The Kuwaiti oil fileds are still on line, for one thing.) So, if you believe the Bushies, Saddam will already have a bomb by the time we attack. Which means, according to their argument, that we can't attack him. But this, as my logic professor used to say, is a contradiction. QED.