From the Economist:

An article on the development of international relations.
Iraqi Shias:

Analysis via Orders of Battle.
On Wagner:

Via the indispensible Arts & Letters Daily, we have this article from the Guardian on Wagner. I think it neatly captures why I find the culture's constant attempts at satire grating:
Since then, Wagner's enterprise has acquired its own tragic pathos, as modern producers, embarrassed by dramas that make a mockery of their way of life, in turn make a mockery of the symbolism. Sarcasm and satire run riot, as in Richard Jones's 1994-96 Covent Garden production of The Ring, because nobility has become intolerable.
I hope that we may start to see a reversal here. We will have to earn it, but we have an opportunity. Our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and elsewhere, have a chance to build an awareness of what real nobility looks like. Our best ambassadors on that project are already at work--which is to say, not ambassadors at all, but those men who go in uniform. Their sacrifices inform us as Wagner's characters meant to:
For Wagner, as for the Greeks, a myth was not a decorative fairy tale, but the elaboration of a secret, a way of both hiding and revealing mysteries that can be understood only in religious terms, through the ideas of sanctity, holiness and redemption....

The gods come about because we idealise our passions, and we do this not by sentimentalising them but by sacrificing ourselves to the vision on which they depend. It is by accepting the need for sacrifice that we begin to live under divine jurisdiction, surrounded by sacred things, and finding meaning through love. Seeing things that way, we recognise that we are not condemned to mortality but consecrated to it.
Bad Translation?

Via the Corner at NRO, there is this story that North Korea may not be reprocessing its fuel rods yet. It is, they say, a mistranslation--they meant, they were ready to do so.
Birth of a Nation:

Iraqi muslims are demonstrating "by the tens of thousands" for an Islamic state in Iraq, and an end to the occupation of Iraq by the United States. Well, we haven't even finished occupying the place yet. Meanwhile, an Iraqi religious leader in Iran is calling for an assembly in Karbala to protest the US efforts to set up an interim government.

This is going to be a lasting problem, and a problem for the long term. There is a model for this from history which ought to be kept in mind: the reconstruction of Confederate states by the Union after the Civil War. Initial efforts at self-government were met with the former Confederate states re-electing Confederate leaders to serve in the government--Alexander Stepehens, vice president of the Confederacy, was sent to the US Senate by Georgia. Unwilling to allow former Confederates such authority, the US government expelled them from their offices and imposed a military government, and required the states to rewrite their constitutions and elect governments approved by the military regime, as well as ratify certain Federal Constitutional amendments (Amendments 13, 14, and 15).

This heavy handed approach resulted in Reconstruction states that were liberal on the surface, but deeply unpopular. As soon as the government retracted its close watch, the populace re-elected Confederate members again--Joe Brown, for example, governor of the state of Georgia before the Civil War, during the Civil War, and then after the Civil War.

Much more importantly, though, was that the countryside fell under the control of terror groups, who grew together to form the Ku Klux Klan. Liberal elements were subject to night-rides, lynchings, beatings, and worse. By the late 1870s, liberal elements were expunged from the government, the state constitutions were rewritten to effectively strip blacks of voting rights, and segregation was in place.

If that is not to happen in Iraq, we will have to be careful in our handling of the place. First, we have to avoid the temptation to shut down these Islamic protests. We have to find a way to bring them into the fold and give them a stake in making the government work. Otherwise, we may find that whatever state system we impose will collapse because of their deep and devoted antipathy.

Another thing we need to do is to fortify liberal elements. There are quite a few of these in Baghdad particularly, especially among those engaged in commerce. The government must also be a thing they have a stake in, and they ought to be encouraged to take small civic leadership roles--the more of them who take such roles, the better. A wise policy would be dividing the cities into many small wards, getting these relatively liberal, commercially minded men into place as mayors, and letting them hire private police forces. Some of the money from the oil wells should be set aside to fund such forces which, being private and each operating according to its owner's personal interest, will not be so likely to fall under the sway of the central government should it turn toward radical Islam. Thus, liberal elements in Iraq would have many strong pockets that would make it harder for terror groups to torment the populace into compliance.

Last, these terror groups need to be eradicated. Special operations teams should begin to be tasked with the regular capture or, if capture is not possible, assassination of terrorist leadership members. It is helpful to remember that they are, in effect, the KKK, and like the KKK they have a core of educated and intelligent men who are leading a mass of uneducated but passionate men. Without the leadership elements, the terror groups can not organize or operate except on a local level. It is when they grow together, as the KKK grew out of many small groups, that they become dangerous to the liberalization of Iraq.
Worse news from Pyongyang:

So North Korea is now reprocessing its fuel rods. These talks we're going to have with them in China will be very interested. Sure, if you're Kim Jong Il, you'd want to be negotiating from behind a growing stockpile of nukes, too. That's the strongest possible position for North Korea.

However, these talks have been "brokered," to use the Washington Post's word, by the People's Republic of China. This bad-faith move by the DPRK is a cause of considerable embarrassment to the PRC. There is nothing the Chinese hate more than being humiliated in public. In the long run, therefore, this could be a good sign--China may now feel it has to take a hard line with the DPRK to save face.
Bad News from Ulster:

This is the biggest story out of Northern Ireland in several years. Scotland Yard has disclosed that British security forces aided Protestant hit squads in Northern Ireland. The Washington Post has the story as well.

The credible suspicion of this sort of thing fueled a lot of US donations to the IRA during the pre-9/11 days. I was myself pro-IRA in my misspent youth, just exactly because I believed--truthfully, as it turns out--that the British government was involved with murder raids on Northern Ireland Catholics. It's really only been 9/11 that brought many of us Americans to take a second look at the IRA, and realize what a band of thugs it is. But if part of it was that we didn't understand what terrorism really was, there was also the fact that the British were behaving brutally.

It's important to realize that MI5 isn't the whole of the British government, though. In the days after 9/11 we often read in the UK newspapers that we Americans needed a domestic security service like MI5. No, we don't, thank you kindly. This is the kind of thing such groups do.
In Texas? Say it ain't so:

Drudge has this story today, which says that the commanding general at Fort Sam Houston has recommended military men not wear uniforms in public to avoid harassment and possible violence. There have been two incidents, one involving an assault on the car of a drill sergeant and his wife, the other involving two sailors who were accosted by "several men."

The sailors were in luck:
Some Marines who were nearby saw what was happening and went to the sailors' aid. The matter was then taken care of by combined military action.
Semper Fi.
Victory against the Nazis:

Simon Wiesenthal is declaring victory, and ending his hunt for the remaining Nazis. Mr. Wiesenthal, 94, says that any who remain are too old to stand trial. I will trust his judgement on the point. It is good to remember that, for sixty years, people like Mr. Wiesenthal have been making sure that evil does not go unpunished. It is also good to remember that all that evil would have gone unpunished, would in fact have ruled in Europe, if it had not been for the same Anglo-American military alliance that is hunting evil now. Pass the Deck of Death.
Infiltration:

Guerrillas in Pakistan continue to raid India and the Kashmir vale. The US State Department expresses frustration with Pakistan, but how much success have we had controlling the Mexican border? Funny you should ask, says the Washington Times--an occasionally dubious source, mind you. Jay Leno explains:
A dozen Al Qaeda members now hiding in Mexico, trying to figure out how to get across the US border to do us harm. Let me tell you something, if these people are not smart enough how to figure to get across the US-Mexican border, I don't think we have anything to worry about.
The UN, cont.

The UN has become little more than a venue for delaying tactics by dictatorial states, I said. What else is it? A venue for tactics by socialist bureaucrats to hamper US efforts. Taheri may be right or wrong about Damascus and Teheran seeking to hinder the US reconstruction of Iraq, but it is plain that Paris wants to do so.
On Syria (and Iran):

Amy Taheri has an article in the National Review today which suggests that Iran and Syria are collaborating on ways to make the reconstruction of Iraq difficult for us. The notion she puts forth is that, by making Iraq hard, these two states hope to distract us from dealing with either (or both) of them. Taheri lists several factors that could be brought into play.

On another front, Syria has pledged to rid the Middle East of Weapons of Mass Destruction and has submitted a plan to that effect to the United Nations. The UN has become little more than the venue for delaying tactics by dictatorial states, as this plan demonstrates:
On Wednesday, Damascus asked the U.N. Security Council to help transform the region into a zone free of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

Speaking to reporters in Cairo today, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Charaa said: "After this initiative, this Syrian proposal . . . Syria won't allow any inspection. It will only participate with its [Arab] brothers and all of the states of the world in turning the Middle East into an area free of weapons of mass destruction."

It was not clear if his remarks were a departure from Syria's previously stated position that it would only allow weapons inspections if they applied to all regional states, including Israel, which is widely believed to have nuclear arms.
So, in short, Syria seeks a nice-sounding resolution behind which to hide, but has no intention of allowing any positive steps to demonstrate compliance. Meanwhile, speculation is rampant that many of Iraq's WMDs passed into Syrian control before the invasion.
Easter at Grim's House:

What sort of Easter Basket will my son Beowulf be getting?
...and keep your spear to hand:

Here is an article on what Norse Mythology has to say about gun control.
More on the Jihadi:

This time via InstaPundit, Sage of Knoxville, a solution for dealing with the jihadi:
In the densely populated northeastern slum area of Saddam City, U.S. Marines pulled back to allow local people to hunt "mujahideen" volunteer fighters holed up in the area.

"The locals said they wanted to take charge of Saddam City and we said: 'Roger that'," Lieutenant-Colonel Lew Craparotta, commander of a Marine unit that moved back from the fringes of the suburb, told Reuters.

Local leaders told U.S. officers that non-Iraqi Arab fighters were still a threat in the mainly Shi'ite district.

"It's much easier for them to identify the enemy than for us. We really can't tell who is who," Craparotta said.

The U.S. withdrawal will allow local men to carry weapons openly, set up checkpoints and cordon off areas where they suspect the Arab volunteer fighters are hiding....

Local militia and the "mujahideen" fought fiercely through Friday night until after dawn, with the sound of sustained small arms and heavy machinegun fire suggesting substantial clashes between the two groups. U.S. forces were not involved.

On Saturday, sporadic small arms fire erupted in the poor district, indicating the "flushing out" operation was ongoing.

Baghdad is saturated with weapons, so both the militia and the Arab volunteer fighters have easy access to large arms and ammunition caches.
Now this is the way it ought to be. Iraqis are taking command of their destiny, and by force of arms erecting a society free of terror men. It's damned inspiring, and just right. Many have asked if you can impose freedom with an army. Here is the answer: Perhaps not, but you can tip the scales to allow brave men to claim it.
Al Qaeda in Basra?

Via ParaPundit, a report from the London Times:
PRESIDENT Saddam Hussein imported hundreds of well-trained Islamic guerrillas before the war to spearhead his fight against American and British forces, The Times has learnt....

The foreign fighters provide a �direct tie between Saddam Hussein and terrorist organisations�, a Pentagon spokeswoman said last night.

British investigators are more cautious, but one officer involved in questioning the survivors told The Times: �These are not just zealots who grabbed a gun and went to the front line. They know how to employ guerrilla tactics so someone had to have trained them. They are certainly organised, and if it�s not bin Laden�s people, its al-Qaeda by another name. But they certainly came here to fight the West.�
Tellingly, many of these jihadi arrived on student visas, claiming to be enrolled in the school for Koranic studies. "Talib," from whence "Taliban," translates as "student" with the understanding that it is the Koran being studied. Student visas seem to be a method of choice for AQ agents travelling in the West, though why they would bother with the pretense in Iraq is not clear. Of course, some just listed their reason for coming to Iraq as "jihadi."
When Ladies Wrote Poems of Knights:

The Knight Errant
by Louise Guiney
SPIRITS of old that bore me,
And set me, meek of mind,
Between great dreams before me,
And deeds as great behind,
Knowing humanity my star
As first abroad I ride,
Shall help me wear, with every scar,
Honor at eventide.

Let claws of lightning clutch me
From summer's groaning cloud,
Or ever malice touch me,
And glory make me proud.
O give my youth, my faith, my sword,
Choice of the heart's desire:
A short life in the saddle, Lord!
Not long life by the fire.

Forethought and recollection
Rivet mine armor gay!
The passion for perfection
Redeem my failing way!
The arrows of the tragic time
From sudden ambush cast,
With calm angelic touches ope
My Paradise at last!

I fear no breathing bowman,
But only, east and west,
The awful other foeman
Impowered in my breast.
The outer fray in the sun shall be,
The inner beneath the moon;
And may Our Lady lend to me
Sight of the Dragon soon!
Speak Softly & Carry a Big Stick:

In spite of a half dozen repetitions by administration officials last week that we have no intention of invading, North Korea seems to be making the first placatory noises in quite a while. The Financial Times reports today on what is, on its face, not a big concession--but it is a concession, which is a start.
In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, North Korea said: "If the US is ready to make a bold switch-over in its Korea policy for a settlement of the nuclear issue, [North Korea] will not stick to any particular dialogue format."

Pyongyang had previously insisted the crisis could be resolved only through bilateral dialogue with the US but Washington feared such talks would reward North Korea's nuclear "blackmail". Instead, the US has proposed multilateral talks, involving other interested countries, such as South Korea, Japan and China.
I personally have had no feeling that the Iraq war would inspire good behavior from the DPRK, as I expect it will from Iran and Syria, and others in the Middle East. The DPRK, being probably possessed of nuclear arms, and certainly possessed of ballistic missiles, would stand of US pressure at sword's point. Certainly the DPRK has been working feverishly to bring its reactor online, though technical problems have prevented it in spite of round-the-clock efforts.

The Iraq war does seem to have impressed Pyongyang, however, and more importantly, it has impressed China:
North Korea has come under heavy diplomatic pressure from its neighbours to accept the US offer of multilateral talks. In particular, diplomats said China, North Korea's closest ally, had become much more active in persuading Pyongyang to back down.

Washington and Pyongyang have no formal diplomatic relations but the pair have been communicating in recent weeks through the UN in New York. China is also thought to have passed messages between the two sides.
It's too early to do more than hope--there are serious concerns that make a negotiated settlement highly unlikely to prove successful in derailing the DPRK's nuclear project. Still, Washington's soft-spoken approach hasn't been spineless: there is a big stick held in plain sight. That report is from Japan, and highlights not only the US but also the Japanese stick; this report, from Reuters, spells out Pyongyang's peril in bold letters.
Also from the Economist:

The French do something right.
Tikrit:

The Marines have landed, and the situation is well in hand. The Economist also reports. Resistance is reportedly very light, unlike in Baghdad where stiff firefights still crop up from time to time. This probably means I won't be winning my bet on Tikrit as Saddam's Last Stand. Of course, U.S. forces think he's probably dead, so it may not matter.