Monday, March 31, 2003

Back to my coverage of the New York Times' coverage of humanitarian relief in Iraq.

Page 1, Friday, March 28: "Baghdad Bombed; Desert Skirmishes Stretch 350 Miles: Heavy Strikes on Iraqi Capital — No 'Timetable,' Says Bush," by Patrick E. Tyler, notes the delay in the arrival of "the first humanitarian aid ship at the port of Umm Qasr."

"After a week of mine-clearing operations, military officials, who had declared the channel cleared, belatedly discovered additional mines that lay on the bottom and that are programmed to float to the surface after a preset number of ships pass over them.

"General Brooks [Brig. Gen. Vince Brooks of the Central Command] said the aid ship, Sir Galahad, was expected to be able to steam up the channel to Umm Qasr on Friday."

This story also includes another Rumsfeldian quotable regarding the war: "We're still closer to the beginning than we are to the end."

Galahad, by the way, was "the son of Lancelot and Elaine of Corbenic. [He] was conceived when Elaine tricked Lancelot into thinking he was meeting and sleeping with Guinevere. Galahad is best known as the knight who achieves the quest for the Holy Grail. As the chosen knight he is allowed to sit in the Siege Perilous, the seat at the Round Table that is reserved for the Grail Knight. The first appearance of Galahad in medieval romance is in the thirteenth-century Vulgate Cycle. His coming is predicted in the first romance in the cycle, the Estoire del saint Graal, where he is said to be the ninth in the line of Nascien, who was baptized by Josephus, son of Joseph of Arimathea, and who was one of those who is said to have brought Christianity to Britain. Galahad remains the pre-eminent Grail Knight in Malory's Morte d'Arthur and in Tennyson's Idylls of the King. A shorter poem by Tennyson, 'Sir Galahad,' presented the popular image of the perfect knight whose 'strength was as the strength of ten' because his 'heart is pure.' The popular painting Sir Galahad (1862) by George Frederic Watts (1817-1904) also presents Galahad as an idealized figure."