Heat by Rob O’Neill

Who said Quagmire?

It’s time to officially announce my retirement from all corporate triathlons, fun runs, half marathons, and related forms of mass hysteria. I have done this before but always weakened as a new event approached. Not this time. I’m outta here.

Having at the weekend knocked a magnificent six minutes off my time of two years ago, completing the St George Bank/BRW Triathlon in 46 minutes and six seconds, it’s time to hang up my trainers.

Also my knees can’t take it any more.

The triathlon is a feature of business in Sydney, competed off Lady Macquarie’s Point opposite the Opera House with an alleged 400 metre swim, 8 kilometre cycle and 4 kilometre run. I say alleged because my times were just too good for those measurements to be accurate. But there is something to say for being up and about at 5.30am, in the harbour by 7.30 and on the piss by 9.

From now on I’ll have to forgo the first two. Mind you, there is a half marathon over the bridge on my birthday…

That’s tempting, but just about the only event that would bring me out of retirement now would be the Kellogg Brown & Root Baghdad Fun Run or the Bechtel Fallujah “Around the Mosques” Triathlon. Now those would be a real challenge. It looks, however, as if I’ll be waiting some time.

Readers of New Zealand’s leading right wing weblog may recall Gordon King’s euphoric post-war prediction of a fun run and maybe even a half marathon in Iraq by the end of 2003.

Never happened. We, the athletes of the left, are still waiting.

There may have only been a minimal, even imaginary, connection between Iraq and terrorism before last year’s US invasion, but there sure as hell is a connection now. In fact, “terrorism” (loosely defined as anything in opposition to US occupation), rather than democracy, seems to be breaking out all over.

Apart from the foreign insurgents, we now have all sorts of local groups springing up to do their bit for the cause. Not only that but the radical Sunnis and Shiites, despite still hating each other’s guts, appear to be moving closer together in opposition to the US invasion. Who ever would have thought?

In The New York Times today:

“Fierce Fighting Spreads to 6 Iraqi Cities”

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 6 — American forces in Iraq came under fierce attack on Tuesday, with as many as 12 marines killed in Ramadi, near Baghdad, and with Shiite militiamen loyal to a rebel cleric stepping up a three-day-old assault in the southern city of Najaf, American officials said...

It was one of the most violent days in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein, with half a dozen cities ignited. One of the biggest questions at day's end was the role of most of the majority Shiites previously thought to be relatively sympathetic to American goals."

The pictures tell a sad story.


“At Word of U.S. Troops, a Baghdad Militia Erupts”

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 6 — The word went out on Tuesday at noon, with the blast of the call to prayer: American soldiers had raided an office of Moktada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric, and torn up a poster of his father, one of Iraq's most revered martyrs.

The Khadamiya bazaar exploded in a frenzy. Shopkeepers reached beneath stacks of sandals for Kalashnikov rifles. Boys wrapped their faces in black cloth. Men raced through the streets, kicking over crates and setting up barriers. Some handed out grenades. Within minutes this entire Shiite neighborhood in central Baghdad had mobilized for war."

Of course, that’s probably all left wing, surrender-monkey spin, right?

As the evidence mounts that George and Condoleezza, as well as Bill Clinton dropped the ball on security, here’s an interesting analysis of the collective “flip flops” from Slate’s William Saletan:

“What do all these flip-floppers have in common? Not subject matter: DiIulio worked on social policy, O'Neill on economics, Clarke on national security. Not party: Kerry, Edwards, and Gephardt are Democrats; O'Neill is a Republican; Clarke worked for President Reagan and both Bushes as well as for President Clinton. The only thing they have in common is that they all cooperated with this administration before deciding they'd been conned. Flip-flopping, it turns out, is the final stage of trusting George W. Bush.”


Oh, and if you haven't seen the Bush Economist cover, check it out now! (Click past issues below the current cover).