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Thursday 9 January 2003

Operation ATLAS swings into action [brit]

You'd be amazed how differently America is handling the war with Iraq, compared with the UK.
I flew back from New York this morning (arriving 8.40am our time, in work by 9.10am - go figure) having spent 3 days attending various head shed meetings at DDB Worldwide (the global agency that own my ass) and thought I'd tell you about Operation ATLAS.
Literally 5 minutes after the tomahawk missiles were launched from USS Bunker Hill (an Aegis air defence cruiser in the Red Sea), the most awe inspiring civilian protection programme went into overdrive.
National Guard in their hundreds appeared on the streets of New York; 1,000 extra police with armoured trucks and mobile command posts closed down the bridges, tunnels and other approaches to Manhatten.. anything bigger than a family saloon was stopped and searched.
And nobody minded.
It took 25 minutes to drive to the hotel from JFK airport on the way IN, but nearly 2.5 hours to get OUT because of all the checkpoints. People didn't get irate, they didn't toot their horns madly, they openly agreed with the policy and had immense faith in their government and more locally, the governor of New York who, along with Conneticut and Maryland (I think) is spearheading an immense tri-state security operation at a cost of US$5m a day.
Can you imagine if this happened in the UK?
There would be public outcry of enormous dimensions; not to mention that fact that we simply couldn't do it with our immensely overstretched civilian and military authority resources.
What struck me above all else is the fact that despite the roads being full of police cruisers with their lights going, and 18 year old National Guardsmen in full kit walking around, life continued as normal.
You can still buy pretzels from street vendors, you can still stand in Time Square and enjoy the atmosphere, you can still spend a lovely evening in a fabulous restaurant, or go ice skating in Central Park - and you're not alone; the City That Never Sleeps is now adding The City That Continues Regardless to it's many accolades.
Incidentally, there is absolutely no hiding the absolute and perhaps deserved hatred of the French. TV pundits from CNN downwards are openly criticising the Chirac administration; and no expense is being spared to dig out the financial reasons behind France's decision to debunk the war.
Did you know France has a US$50bn contract with Iraq to export it's oil? Did you know France owns 90% of all of Iraq's oil infrastructure maintenance rights?
Contracts which are worth nothing now, since once Hussein is removed, all previous bets are off.
I have an immense feeling of kinship with our American cousins; and I for one having spoken at length with New Yorkers about everything from '9-Eleven' onwards and believe wholeheartedly that the war with Iraq is 100% justified.


  1. Bit reluctant to get into this again. :) Firstly, yes we did know about France's interests - that would be why we don't like them very much. Hipocrasy on a comic scale.
    On the other hand, I'm not convinced at all that New York is particularly a good place to poll for balanced opinions on the whole Iraqi conflict. I suspect that they're for any kind of strike back on those Arab buggers wot blew up the towers. The Americans haven't been real big on international affairs, I don't really think they comprehend the difference between different types of Arabs or whatever. At least not when given such an emotional incentive such as New Yorkers.
    I just went through London today btw, few armed coppers around a couple of tube stations. That's new. All very low key of course.

  2. One of my editors is leaving us today to go to NBC. She's having a leaving party and asked me if I thought it would be safe to have it in town. I don't know what areas would be likely targets but I am pretty sure that soho isn't high on the list. This isn't the first time a question along this line has popped up either. Now if a few extra police or army personel on the streets is going to calm these people down then good.
    I also think the British public would be as tolerant as the ones in New York, no one here wants to die a nasty death at the hands of chemical or biological weapon.

  3. Sadly, the only thing likely to calm people like that down is a time machine and a better education system, or a 3 inch metal bolt applied at speed through the rear of the skull.

  4. Got my front panel audio hooked up yesterday, gutted that the back one doesn't work as well. Plan was back for speakers, front for headies. Dunno wether to stick in an live card for speakers or use Muz's linked jack and just swap at the appropriate time. Prolly go with the MuzJack, much easier to implement. So....ta muz!

  5. Shedir set us up the bomb!
    But seriously, does downtown NY still smelal of rotting corpses? And whats all thsi about police hanging around in public places in London?