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11:30 p.m.On Real Time With Bill Maher, comedian Larry Miller says that we made our big mistake with the Arabs years ago, when we told them what oil was. We should have said: "Ooh, what a horrible mess, let me get rid of that for you."
Saturday, 3/22, 1:30 a.m. CNN's Martin Savidge, reporting from outside Basra. My first taste of the marriage of "access and satellite technology" promised by Koppel. I am watching a unit of the 7th Marines fight a war, live in my living room. The satellite picture keeps breaking up and re-forming and never becomes entirely clear. It's like an Impressionist painting done by a robot, all hard angles and pixels rather than expressive daubs. The Marines are blowing up abandoned enemy tanks. Plumes of black smoke rise into the desert sky as they detonate. Parental anchors Anderson Cooper and Carol Costello tell Savidge to be a good boy and put his helmet on.
Sunday, 3/23, 7 p.m. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears on NBC's Meet the Press with Tim Russert. Russert quotes a recent statement of the pope's to the effect that the man who decides to send a nation to war on the grounds that all diplomatic efforts have been exhausted "assumes a grave responsibility before God, his own conscience, and history."
"That's true," Rumsfeld replies.
"And you accept that?"
"Indeed." Rumsfeld then tells Russert that Iraq's borders are completely open. I have visions of half the Arab world crossing over the frontier to help out the Republican Guard.
9 p.m. Iraqi TV shows victims of the bombing in the hospital, followed by scenes, probably old, of a cigar-smoking Saddam and his war council smiling and laughing and sharing a few disembowlment jokes as they plan another devastating move of unparalleled military genius.
10 p.m. It looks like we're in a real war. American POWs are being paraded on Al-Jazeera, a Muslim G.I. has chucked grenades into a tent occupied by his own officers, and there have been enough "pockets of resistance" for at least 20 pairs of pants. Aaron Brown says that today was "proof that war is a nasty and difficult and heartbreaking business." One has the sense that a major part of the anchorperson's job these days is to re-introduce the American public to the notion that it is not always possible to fight wars without suffering significant casualties. The looming showdown with the Republican Guard in Baghdad — or BugDAHD, as the Arabs pronounce it — is on everyone's mind.
Monday, 3/24, 12 a.m. He's back. Dressed in fatigues, Saddam appears on Iraqi television to deliver a speech of staggering verbosity in which he entreats his countrymen to slit American throats. I wait patiently for a bomb to fall on him during his address, but no such luck.
11 a.m.The Russians are reported to have been supplying the Iraqis with all manner of useful stuff, including night-vision goggles, GPS jamming devices and anti-tank missiles; not to be outdone, the French send white handkerchiefs to help fedayeen pretend to surrender. A White House leak reveals that when Bush peered into Vladimir Putin's soul, the message inscribed there was written in Cyrillic.
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