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The questions one asks *always* determine the answers one gets. Values and theories form the basis of all inquiry. This blog asks questions about Bush's "pre-emptive war on Iraq", the political influence of corporations, US foreign policy, the ''politically right'' media bias, developing countries, wealth distribution, and political philosophy.

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Saturday, February 01, 2003  

Once 'Stormin' Norman,' Gen. Schwarzkopf Is Skeptical About U.S. Action in Iraq
By Thomas E. Ricks
Tuesday, January 28, 2003; Page C01

TAMPA--Norman Schwarzkopf wants to give peace a chance. The general who commanded U.S. forces in the 1991 Gulf War says he hasn't seen enough evidence to convince him that his old comrades Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and Paul Wolfowitz are correct in moving toward a new war now. He thinks U.N. inspections are still the proper course to follow. He's worried about the cockiness of the U.S. war plan, and even more by the potential human and financial costs of occupying Iraq.

And don't get him started on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In fact, the hero of the last Gulf War sounds surprisingly like the man on the street when he discusses his ambivalence about the Bush administration's hawkish stance on ousting Saddam Hussein. He worries about the Iraqi leader, but would like to see some persuasive evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs.

"The thought of Saddam Hussein with a sophisticated nuclear capability is a frightening thought, okay?" he says. "Now, having said that, I don't know what intelligence the U.S. government has. And before I can just stand up and say, 'Beyond a shadow of a doubt, we need to invade Iraq,' I guess I would like to have better information."

He hasn't seen that yet, and so -- in sharp contrast to the Bush administration -- he supports letting the U.N. weapons inspectors drive the timetable: "I think it is very important for us to wait and see what the inspectors come up with, and hopefully they come up with something conclusive."

This isn't just any retired officer speaking. Schwarzkopf is one of the nation's best-known military officers, with name recognition second only to his former boss, Secretary of State Powell. What's more, he is closely allied with the Bush family. He hunts with the first President Bush. He campaigned for the second, speaking on military issues at the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia and later stumping in Florida with Cheney, who was secretary of defense during the 1991 war.

But he sees the world differently from those Gulf War colleagues. "It's obviously not a black-and-white situation over there" in the Mideast, he says. "I would just think that whatever path we take, we have to take it with a bit of prudence."

So has he seen sufficient prudence in the actions of his old friends in the Bush administration? Again, he carefully withholds his endorsement. "I don't think I can give you an honest answer on that."

Now 68, the general seems smaller and more soft-spoken than in his Riyadh heyday 12 years ago when he was "Stormin' Norman," the fatigues-clad martinet who intimidated subordinates and reporters alike. During last week's interview he sat at a small, round table in his skyscraper office, casually clad in slacks and a black polo shirt, the bland banks and hotels of Tampa's financial district spread out beyond him.

His voice seems thinner than during those blustery, globally televised Gulf War briefings. He is limping from a recent knee operation. He sometimes stays home to nurse the swelling with a bag of frozen peas. He's had time to think. He likes the performance of Colin Powell -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, now secretary of state. "He's doing a wonderful job, I think," he says. But he is less impressed by Rumsfeld, whose briefings he has watched on television.

"Candidly, I have gotten somewhat nervous at some of the pronouncements Rumsfeld has made," says Schwarzkopf.

He contrasts Cheney's low profile as defense secretary during the Gulf War with Rumsfeld's frequent television appearances since Sept. 11, 2001. "He almost sometimes seems to be enjoying it." That, Schwarzkopf admonishes, is a sensation to be avoided when engaged in war.

The general is a true son of the Army, where he served from 1956 to 1991, and some of his comments reflect the estrangement between that service and the current defense secretary. Some at the top of the Army see Rumsfeld and those around him as overly enamored of air power and high technology and insufficiently attentive to the brutal difficulties of ground combat. Schwarzkopf's comments reflect Pentagon scuttlebutt that Rumsfeld and his aides have brushed aside some of the Army's concerns.

"The Rumsfeld thing . . . that's what comes up," when he calls old Army friends in the Pentagon, he says.

"When he makes his comments, it appears that he disregards the Army," Schwarzkopf says. "He gives the perception when he's on TV that he is the guy driving the train and everybody else better fall in line behind him -- or else."

That dismissive posture bothers Schwarzkopf because he thinks Rumsfeld and the people around him lack the background to make sound military judgments by themselves. [!!!] He prefers the way Cheney operated during the Gulf War. "He didn't put himself in the position of being the decision-maker as far as tactics were concerned, as far as troop deployments, as far as missions were concerned."

Rumsfeld, by contrast, worries him. "It's scary, okay?" he says. "Let's face it: There are guys at the Pentagon who have been involved in operational planning for their entire lives, okay? . . . And for this wisdom, acquired during many operations, wars, schools, for that just to be ignored, and in its place have somebody who doesn't have any of that training, is of concern."

As a result, Schwarzkopf is skeptical that an invasion of Iraq would be as fast and simple as some seem to think. "I have picked up vibes that . . . you're going to have this massive strike with massed weaponry, and basically that's going to be it, and we just clean up the battlefield after that," he says. But, he adds, he is more comfortable now with what he hears about the war plan than he was several months ago, when there was talk of an assault built around air power and a few thousand Special Operations troops.

He expresses even more concern about the task the U.S. military might face after a victory. "What is postwar Iraq going to look like, with the Kurds and the Sunnis and the Shiites? That's a huge question, to my mind. It really should be part of the overall campaign plan."

(Rumsfeld said last week that post-Saddam planning "is a tough question and we're spending a lot of time on it, let me assure you." But the Pentagon hasn't disclosed how long it expects to have to occupy Iraq, or how many troops might be required to do that.)

The administration may be discussing the issue behind closed doors, Schwarzkopf says, but he thinks it hasn't sufficiently explained its thinking to the world, especially its assessment of the time, people and money needed. "I would hope that we have in place the adequate resources to become an army of occupation," he warns, "because you're going to walk into chaos."

2:40 AM

George Kennan, leading Cold War statesman, is highly critical of Bush and US pre-emptive war on Iraq. Read the interview.
George Kennan Speaks Out About Iraq
By Albert Eisele
Mr. Eisele is the founder and editor of The Hill (which, alas, has subsequently been sold to Conrad Black and is now a CPAC mouthpiece).

George F. Kennan, the chief architect of the containment and deterrence policies that shaped America foreign policy during the Cold War, said Sunday that Congress, and not President Bush, must decide whether the United States should take military action against Iraq. In a wide-ranging interview at a Georgetown senior citizens home where he spent the past month, the 98-year-old historian and former top U.S. diplomat repeatedly warned of the unforeseen consequences of waging war.

Speaking out even as the Bush administration unveiled a new national security strategy calling for preemptive strikes against hostile states and terrorist groups suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction, Kennan said, “This decision should really rest with Congress.” He added, “Congress is there for the exercise of that responsibility. I think our Constitution and our tradition are quite sufficient here. [Bush] should not do what he’s planning to do without a clear congressional mandate. This is against all American tradition.

“Anyone who has ever studied the history of American diplomacy, especially military diplomacy, knows that you might start in a war with certain things on your mind as a purpose of what you are doing, but in the end, you found yourself fighting for entirely different things that you had never thought of before,” he said. "In other words, war has a momentum of its own and it carries you away from all thoughtful intentions when you get into it. Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end.”

Kennan is the author of the history-making 1947 essay in Foreign Affairs, which he signed as “X” and enunciated the policy of containment that helped define American foreign policy after World War II. In the interview, he also:

• Characterized the new national security document issued by the Bush administration last week as “a great mistake in principle”;
Voicing the same view that Vice President Albert Gore would take a day later, he warned that launching an attack on Iraq would amount to waging a second war that “bears no relation to the first war against terrorism”;
• Declared that efforts by the White House and Republicans in Congress to link al Qaeda terrorists with Saddam Hussein “have been pathetically unsupportive and unreliable”;• Said Bush “shouldn’t speak contemptuously” of the inspection teams that previously worked in Iraq, “because they succeeded in destroying and removing from Iraq very, very sizeable quantities of dangerous arms”;
• Called the failure of Democratic congressional leaders and the party’s would-be presidential candidates to question Bush’s war plans as “a shabby and shameful reaction”;
• Insisted that there is no evidence that Iraq has succeeded in developing nuclear weaponry, and even if they had, it would be targeted on Israel and not the United States;
• Said the Israelis almost certainly possess nuclear weapons, and would be “quite capable of mounting a devastating retaliatory strike” if Iraq ever uses weapons of mass destruction against Israel;
• Praised the diplomatic skills of Secretary of State Colin Powell, whom he called a “man of strong loyalties in a difficult position [who] has been much more powerful in his statements than” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; and
• Cautioned that the United States, even as the world’s sole superpower, cannot “confront all the painful and dangerous situations that exist in this world. … That’s beyond our capabilities.”

Kennan, who was in Washington with his 93-year-old wife this month while the couple that lives with them in Princeton, N.J., was on vacation, appeared vigorous and alert — although arthritis has confined him to a wheelchair. The interview took place in the apartment of former Sen. Eugene McCarthy (D-Minn.), whose anti-Vietnam War candidacy in 1968 was endorsed by Kennan. Reminded that some people are comparing Bush’s request to Congress for broad warmaking powers with the 1964 congressional approval of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution, which allowed President Lyndon Johnson to escalate in Vietnam, Kennan said such resolutions “lead to no good.” He concluded, “You have to look at things all over again, every day, every week, every month, and adjust what you are doing, but do it in the light of the experience of the past.”

Asked what advice he would give Bush and his national security team in dealing with Iraq, Kennan replied, “First, I would say consult with the Israelis, who stand in the line of fire.” He added, “But also, there is a very, very basic consideration involved here, and that is that whenever you have a possibility of going in two ways, either for peace or for war, for peaceful methods of for military methods, in the present age there is a strong prejudice for the peaceful ones. War seldom ever leads to good results.” Declaring that Hussein “is not the only horrible, evil dictator in the world” who might have weapons of mass destruction, Kennan said the United States made a great mistake in backing out of the nuclear test ban agreement. “If we had stopped testing, the greater part of the nuclear weaponry of all the countries who had signed the test ban treaty would have become inoperable in 20 or 30 years.”
Shown a New York Times article describing Bush’s new national security document as a “doctrine” and “strategy” that declares the ideas of containment and deterrence “are all but dead,” Kennan said, “I don’t care what you call it. I don’t have any use for either word. A doctrine is something that pins you down to a given mode of conduct and dozens of situations which you cannot foresee, which is a great mistake in principle. When the word ‘containment’ was used in my ‘X’ article, it was used with relation to a certain situation then prevailing, and as a response to it.” He said the only relevance between containment and deterrence on the one hand, and the new Bush approach on the other, would be “a very general one, because it rests partly on the theory, and I think the correct theory, that if you ever had a chance to do something without the use of military force, by all means choose it rather than put military force into the picture.”

Kennan was particularly critical of congressional Democrats for failing to oppose Bush’s request for a blank check on Iraq. “I wonder why the Democrats have not asked the president right out, ‘What are you talking about? Are you talking about one war or two wars? [Against terrorists like Al Quada, and against Iraq.] And if it’s two wars, have we really faced up to the competing demands of the two?” He added, “This is, to me, as a very old, independent citizen, a shabby and shameful reaction. I deplore this timidity out of concern for the elections on the part of the Democrats.”

1:55 AM

Friday, January 31, 2003  
Generals Schwarzkopf, Clark, etc. advise caution on Iraq, as do statesmen George Kennan and Amb. Zinni.
1:37 PM

41+ Nobel Laureates Sign Against a War Without International Support (only 6 declined to sign)

"The undersigned oppose a preventive war against Iraq without broad international support. Military operations against Iraq may indeed lead to a relatively swift victory in the short term. But war is characterized by surprise, human loss and unintended consequences. Even with a victory, we believe that the medical, economic, environmental, moral, spiritual, political and legal consequences of an American preventive attack on Iraq would undermine, not protect, U.S. security and standing in the world."

The signers include a number who at one time or another have advised the federal government or played important roles in national security. Among them are Hans A. Bethe, an architect of the atom bomb; Walter Kohn, a former adviser to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency at the Pentagon; Norman F. Ramsey, a Manhattan Project scientist who readied the Hiroshima bomb and later advised NATO; and Charles H. Townes, former research director of the Institute for Defense Analyses at the Pentagon and chairman of a federal panel that studied how to base the MX missile and its nuclear warheads. In addition to winning Nobel prizes, 18 of the signers have received the National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science honor.

Dr. Kohn, a Nobel chemist at the University of California at Santa Barbara, organized the declaration. Dr. Kohn said he tried to contact all American Nobel laureates in science and economics, who are thought to number about 130. But some had died or were unreachable, he said, while others never replied. Dr. Kohn said only six respondents declined to sign the declaration. He said the signers included Democrats and Republicans alike. Patricia Halloran, an aide to Dr. Kohn, said that more signatures were expected in the next few days as laureates returned from foreign travels or caught up with their mail.

Occasionally, science Nobelists have banded together to speak out, usually on topics of war and peace, arms and technology. In July 2000, 50 Nobel laureates urged President Bill Clinton to reject a proposed $60 billion missile defense system, arguing that it would be wasteful and dangerous. In October 1999, 32 Nobel laureates in physics urged the Senate to approve the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, calling it central to halting the spread of nuclear arms.

The first signers are these, with E designating economics; P, physics; C, chemistry; and M, medicine or physiology: George A. Akerlof E; Philip W. Anderson P; Paul Berg C; Hans A. Bethe P; Nicolaas Bloembergen P; Paul D. Boyer C; Owen Chamberlain P; Leon N. Cooper P; James W. Cronin P; Robert F. Curl Jr. C; Val L. Fitch P; Robert F. Furchgott M; Sheldon L. Glashow P; Roger Guillemin M; Herbert A. Hauptman C; Alan J. Heeger C; Louis J. Ignarro M; Eric R. Kandel M; Har Gobind Khorana M; Lawrence R. Klein E; Walter Kohn C; Leon M. Lederman P; Yuan T. Lee C; William N. Lipscomb C; Daniel L. McFadden E; Franco Modigliani E; Ferid Murad M; George E. Palade M; Arno A. Penzias P; Martin L. Perl P; William D. Phillips P; Norman F. Ramsey P; Robert Schrieffer P; William F. Sharpe E; Jack Steinberger P; Joseph H. Taylor Jr. P; Charles H. Townes P; Daniel C. Tsui P; Harold E. Varmus M; Robert W. Wilson P; Ahmed H. Zewail C.

1:25 PM

Even conservative columnist William Safire (former speechwriter for Richard Nixon) warns against the increasing concentration of media ownership. His op-ed of Jan 20, 2003, in its entirety:

On Media Giantism

You won't find a movie nominated for an Oscar with the heroine — fighting to expose the dominance of media conglomerates in the distribution of entertainment — crushed by the giant corporation that controls film financing, distribution and media criticism. You won't find television magazine programs fearlessly exposing the broadcast lobby's pressure on Congress and the courts to allow station owners to gobble up more stations and cross-own local newspapers, thereby to determine what information residents of a local market receive. Nor will you find many newspaper chains assigning reporters to reveal the effect of media giantism on local coverage or cover the way publishers induce coverage-hungry politicians to loosen antitrust restraints.

Should we totally deregulate the public airwaves and permit the dwindling of major media down to a precious few? Should we reduce choices available to cantankerous individualists who do not want their information and entertainment limited by increasingly massive mass media? "Luddite nonsense," answer many merging movie mogul and media magnates, as they point to the seemingly fierce competition from the Internet and the proliferation of cable channels.

Tell that to the purchasers of political advertising: the big bucks go into broadcast TV, with its unmatchable cost per thousand viewers. And stop to examine the highly hyped "competition" that consolidating media profess to fear: the leading 20 Internet sites and biggest cable channels are already owned by the expansive likes of G.E.-NBC, Disney, Fox, Gannett, AOL Time Warner, Hearst, Microsoft, Cox, Dow Jones, The Washington Post and The New York Times. (Is there anyone I haven't offended?) Ah, counter the trust-trusters, but most people want the conglomerates they trust to provide the content they watch and read. As for diversity — don't 16,000 local radio stations provide much of the vaunted diversity of views and tastes that Americans want?

Take a listen to what's happened to local radio in one short wave of deregulation: the great cacophony of different sounds and voices is being amalgamated and homogenized. (The following figures were published by Gannett's USA Today, which kind of blunts my point about big-media squeamishness, but its account of the F.C.C.'s ruination of independent radio is damning.) Back in 1996, the two largest radio chains owned 115 stations; today, those two own more than 1,400. A handful of leading owners used to generate only a fifth of industry revenue; now these top five rake in 55 percent of all money spent on local radio. The number of station owners has plummeted by a third. Yesterday's programming diversity on the public's airwaves has degenerated to the Top 40, as today's consolidating commodores borrowing public property say "the public interest be damned." Granted, Rush Limbaugh's views differ from those heard on liberal NPR, just as an indie movie producer can make money for a cookie-cutter conglomerate with a film going against the grain. But while political paranoids accuse each other of vast conspiracies, the truth is that media mergers have narrowed the range of information and entertainment available to people of all ideologies.

Does this make me (gasp!) pro-regulation? Michael Powell [Colin Powell's son, and former GTE lawyer], appointed by Bush to be F.C.C. chairman, likes to say "the market is my religion." My conservative economic religion is founded on the rock of competition, which — since Teddy Roosevelt's day — has protected small business and consumers against predatory pricing leading to market monopolization.

One of the Democrats on the F.C.C., Michael Copps, is concerned that "we're relying on institutions to cover this debate which have interests in the outcome of the debate." That inherent conflict of interest is why I have long been banging my spoon against the highchair. Republicans in the House, intimidated by the powerful broadcast lobby, don't admit that some regulation can be pro-business; neither does the D.C. Court of Appeals, which wants further "granulating of evidence" that endless merging harms competition. In the Senate, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas, grasps this. Perhaps Commerce Chairman John McCain will see T.R.'s trust-busting light and start heavy granulating in hearings — before merger mania afflicts TV and film the way it is debilitating local radio.

1:16 PM

In case you missed it in October, the CIA warns that Saddam is *not* likely to use WMD against the US (nor to provide them to Al Quada) *unless* the US launches a pre-emptive attack. "Baghdad for now appears to be drawing a line short of conducting terrorist attacks" with conventional or chemical or biological weapons against the United States. "Should Saddam conclude that a U.S.-led attack could no longer be deterred, he probably would become much less constrained in adopting terrorist action," it continued. It noted that Mr. Hussein could use either conventional terrorism or a weapon of mass destruction as "his last chance to exact vengeance by taking a large number of victims with him." The letter dated Oct. 7 also declassified an exchange from a closed Congressional hearing on Oct. 2 in which a senior intelligence official judged the likelihood of Mr. Hussein's initiating an attack in the foreseeable future as "low."
1:05 PM

Conservative commentator Rober Novak is suspicious of Bush's war on Iraq. Transcript from Jan 18, 2003 Capitol Gang:
MARK SHIELDS: Bob Novak, on a day when thousands rallied against U.S. military action, do people in favor of war have legitimate reason, given these warheads?
ROBERT NOVAK: I can't imagine that anybody would say, We're going to war because there are 11 empty warheads, probably left over from 10 years ago. These warheads are not the nuclear weapons we've been warned about. They travel about 12 miles. But this is being used as a pretext for a decision that's already been made at high levels of the U.S. government to change the government in Iraq. It has nothing to do with, boy, we're -- we are really worried about these little chemical warheads that's going to cause a holocaust in the Middle East. Most disturbing thing is that Secretary of State Powell, a lot of people were relying on to keep some sanity, played the good soldier this week and said that at the end of the month, there would be more evidence. If there's more, if there's evidence, why not put it out now? [...]
NOVAK: That's exactly right. But the last thing that the hawks inside the administration, and their friends outside the administration, want is a coup d'etat that would replace Saddam Hussein. They want a war as a manifestation of U.S. power in the world and as a sign that the United States is capable of changing the balance of power and the political map of the Middle East. [...]
NOVAK: All right. [I was] talking to a senior official, and he said to me, he said, Well, if we don't hit in Iraq, where are we going to hit? And they -- it's a desire that the United States, the superpower, is going to manifest its authority to the rest of the world. Listen, I just feel that this potential -- this war, I just trust it comes off easily. But I have trepidation that it won't be easy, and there's going to be a terrible consequences from it.

12:59 PM

Also in the 1996 Perle/Feith/et al. article, "A Clean Break," [with comment]:

* "This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq--an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right".
[Pretty explicit. 5 years prior to 9/11, no discussion of WMD threat to US, or Al Qaeda.]

* "Israel's new agenda can signal a clean break by ... reestablishing the principle of preemption"
["Pre-emption"--I've heard that phrase somewhere... ;)]
"rather than retaliation alone and by ceasing to absorb blows to the nation without response."

* upholding right of hot pursuit into Palestinian-controlled areas [viz. Jenin etc.]. A "practice with which Americans can sympathize."

* no "land for peace"
[slogan => don't give an inch to PLO in negotiations]

* "Israel has no obligations under the Oslo agreements..."
[Oslo accords are moot.]

* "...Israel may want to cultivate alternatives to Arafat's base of power."

* draw attention to "weapons of mass destruction" program.

* "rolling back" neighbors; military strikes on select targets in neighbors
[in 1996, it says Syria as well as Iraq].

* "Israel is self-reliant", "does not need US troops in any capacity to defend it".
[Likud/hawks have opposed US peacekeeping troops, because they know this would draw a territorial line which they oppose, a line which excludes the 200-odd settlements housing 300,000 Jewish settlers, and it would create a Palestinian state. (Some Palestinian groups oppose it, too; not all.)]

* "encouraging -- through influence in the US business community --"
[imagine if an American critic of Sharon suggested that Israel has influence in the US business community]
"encouraging investment in Jordan".
[That was 1996; the US-Jordan Bilateral Investment Treaty was signed July 1997. Was it ratified by the US Senate in 2000? Also, on October 24, 2000 Clinton signed the US-Jordan Free Trade Agreement, implemented by Bush on September 28, 2001. ]

* "formulate the policies and stress themes in language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations ... which may apply well to Israel."
[Thus, post 9-11, 'war on terror'--which suddenly blurred the line between religious fanatics who hijacked an airplane and crashed it into the World Trade Center in NY killing 3,000 Americans, and extremists among Palestinian refugees who were forced off their land 50 years ago and have lived in misery and humiliation since (but never deliberately targeted American citizens nor acted on American soil)? And 'war on Iraq'--Iraq undoubtedly does have WMD (when did this become a trigger for invasion; when was this ever doubted???) but has been a rump state since 1991 and has only threatened Americans on Iraqi/Kuwaiti soil and then only during/after the 'mother of all wars' against Iraq (and after Glaspie/Baker's green light, etc.).]

* "our claim to the land--to which we have clung for hope for 2000 years--is legitimate and noble."
[As if Palestinians have no legitimate or noble claims to the land? As if ethnic cleansing by any other name wouldn't smell foul? As if Native-American claims, say, are illegitimate or ignoble? As if Israel's Likud Party is a big supporter of Cherokee Nation claims against the US government? Just which Israeli land-claims are legitimate? The borders of 1948? 1967? 1973? 1982? Any settlements? Some, all? Genesis 15:(18-21): "up to the Euphrates river" (in the middle of modern-Iraq)? Virtually everyone, including Arafat and Saudi, agree on the 1967 borders, and recognize Israel's right to exist. The main issues are the settlements, Jerusalem, and compensation and/or some rights of return for refugees.]

11:40 AM

Thursday, January 30, 2003  
Nice article in Jan/Feb Foreign Affairs, by Richard (Dick) Betts, another top scholar of military/intelligence/security issues. It is reprinted in the American Conservative magazine [!], the first three paragraphs reprinted here:

How Will Iraq Strike Back?
Rather than making the world more safe, an attack on Saddam could put Americans here at home in harm’s way.
By Richard K. Betts

President Bush seems confident that his war against Iraq will be easier than his father’s, or at least that we can be sure to fight it on our own terms. But why should Saddam Hussein do us that favor? The hour is late for confronting strategic confusion, but better late than never. The United States has painted itself as well as Iraq into a corner. The case for preventive war rests on two crucial errors: understating the risk that an assault on Iraq will trigger a counterattack on American civilians, and, when that risk is admitted, conflating it with the threat of unprovoked attack by Iraq in the future.
Most Americans take for granted that if the war proves bloodier than the optimists expect, the price will be paid by the military or people in the region. If an invasion succeeds, however, Saddam Hussein will have no reason to withhold his best parting shot—which could be the release of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) inside the United States. Such a counterattack against civilians could make the death toll of Sept. 11 look small. Washington has done little to prepare the country for this possibility.
When administration spokesmen do admit this danger, they misread it as reinforcing their case, as if it simply demonstrates the same threat they believe requires preventive war. There is a world of difference, however, between the odds that Iraq will fight back if we strike first and the odds that Iraq will strike without provocation in the future. The administration does not admit that if our attack triggers Iraqi retaliation, we will have brought the disaster on ourselves. It is not quite too late to ponder the Prussian statesman Otto von Bismarck’s characterization of preventive war: “suicide from fear of death.”

3:48 PM

The top Episcopal Bishop, Frank T. Griswold, says that American willingness to spend more on war in Iraq than on the AIDS pandemic in Africa is "a manifestation of evil" and a "form of sin from which we as a nation are called to repent." "I'd like to be able to go somewhere in the world and not have to apologise for being from the United States," Bishop Griswold said on January 10 in an interview with Religion News Service. "Quite apart from the bombs we drop, words are weapons and we have used our language so unwisely, so intemperately, so thoughtlessly...that I'm not surprised we are hated and loathed everywhere I go," he said. "We are loathed, and I think the world has every right to loathe us, because they see us as greedy, self-interested and almost totally unconcerned about poverty, disease and suffering," he said.
Bishop Griswold's sentiments about the threat of war were echoed by Pope John Paul II in a New Year's statement on January 13. War "is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between states, the noble exercise of diplomacy: These are the methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences," the Pope said, adding his criticism of leaders who "place their trust in nuclear weapons" and armed force. "War is never just another means that one can choose to employ for settling differences between nations," he said.

3:35 PM

Fascinating article from Haaretz (Israel's largest English-language daily newspaper), reprinted here in its entirety (emphases added):

People and Politics
Perles of wisdom for the Feithful
By Akiva Eldar
January 30, 2003

Saturday night's TV audience for the weekly foreign affairs show "Ro'im Olam" on Channel One saw Prince Hassan, King Abdullah's [of Jordan] uncle, starring at a London assembly of the Iraqi opposition in exile. Ever since the Bush administration ordered the CIA to nurture the exiled Iraqis, nothing happens to them by accident. Prince Hassan didn't just happen to drop in because he was in town. The Hashemite [Jordanian] dynasty has never given up its dream to revive the Iraqi throne. It could be a great job for Hassan, whose older brother [King Hussein of Jordan] denied him the Jordanian kingdom at the last minute.

It's true that restoring a monarchy in Iraq does not exactly fit the Bush administration's vision of a democratic Middle East. But there are signs that it fits some old dreams of a few of the key strategists around the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld triangle running America's Iraq policy. A few weeks ago, Richard Perle invited the Pentagon chiefs to a meeting with researchers from a Washington think tank with particularly close relations with the Defense Department.

According to information that reached a former top official in the Israeli security services, the researchers showed two slides to the Pentagon officials. The first was a depiction of the three goals in the war on terror and the democratization of the Middle East: Iraq - a tactical goal, Saudi Arabia - a strategic goal, and Egypt - the great prize.

The triangle in the next slide was no less interesting: Palestine is Israel, Jordan is Palestine, and Iraq is the Hashemite Kingdom.

The former Israeli security official met two weeks ago with a very well-connected Republican member of one of Perle's Policy Board. The Israeli asked if the Bush administration intended to pick up where the Carter administration left off, "when it swapped the Shah's democracy for Khomeini's." The Israeli warned the American about an all-out war with the entire Arab world, and added that the Perle plan would create "an impossible strategic environment" for Israel. He mentioned Algeria as an example of democratization in the wrong place. The Republican promised he'd pass it on to the White House.

Redefining Iraq

In 1996, Richard Perle and Doug Feith joined a small group of researchers who were asked to help Benjamin Netanyahu in his first steps as prime minister. They could not have known that four years later that the working paper they prepared, including plans for Israel to help restore the Hashemite throne in Iraq, would shed light on the current policies of the only superpower in the world. The document, prepared by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, with offices in Washington and Jerusalem, appears at the institute's Web site,, and has been mentioned in the American press.

The current Israeli and Iraqi connection, and the key role Feith and Perle play in the Bush administration, make the document a treasure trove. Perle heads the Defense Department's Policy Board and is considered one of the most important strategic thinkers in the American establishment. Feith is the deputy defense minister - No. 3 in the Pentagon's hierarchy. The document presents an ambitious plan for a "U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality - not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes."

The new partnership drawn up by Perle, Feith and five other researchers, has interests in all sorts of directions in the region.

"Jordan has challenged Syria's regional ambitions recently by suggesting the restoration of the Hashemites in Iraq," the group writes. "Since Iraq's future could affect the strategic balance in the Middle East profoundly, it would be understandable that Israel has an interest in supporting the Hashemites in their efforts to redefine Iraq, including such measures as: visiting Jordan as the first official state visit, even before a visit to the United States, of the new Netanyahu government; supporting King Hussein by providing him with some tangible security measures to protect his regime against Syrian subversion; encouraging - through influence in the U.S. business community - investment in Jordan to shift structurally Jordan's economy away from dependence on Iraq; and diverting Syria's attention by using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon."

The experts advised Netanyahu to pull Turkey into the brew, with diplomatic, military, and operational support for Turkish actions against Syria. They say that "Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq - an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right - as a means of foiling Syria's regional ambitions." One way to do it: "... Securing tribal alliances with Arab tribes that cross into Syrian territory and are hostile to the Syrian ruling elite."

Since Syria prefers "a weak, but barely surviving Saddam," if only to foil Jordanian efforts to topple him, Perle, Feith and company are recommending diverting Syria attention from the Hashemitization of Iraq. How? "By using Lebanese opposition elements to destabilize Syrian control of Lebanon."

Quote Peace Unquote

At this point the two Jewish experts [Perle and Feith], eventually to become key Pentagon players, are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments (including the Reagan administration, in which Perle played a key role) and Israeli interests. They say, "Given the nature of the regime in Damascus, it is both natural and moral that Israel abandon the slogan 'comprehensive peace' and move to contain Syria, drawing attention to its weapons of mass destruction program, and rejecting 'land for peace' deals on the Golan Heights."

Perle and Feith were among the leaders of the campaign to push Congress not to support the idea of sending American peacekeeping troops to the Golan, which came up as an idea in the U.S.-mediated negotiations Yitzhak Rabin conducted with the Syrians. The group decides that "Israel's new strategy - based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength - reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs.

"To remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past," Perle and Feith recommend the new prime minister declare on his first visit to Washington that Israel "is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees at least, which prevent economic reform." Indeed, Netanyahu did use the occasion of his first visit to Washington as prime minister to announce a gradual reduction of civilian aid and turning some of it into defense aid. The experts believe that way Israel will improve its cooperation with the U.S. against genuine threats to the region and Western security.

The position paper, which includes sections marked like crib sheets with "TEXT" for Netanyahu to use in his speeches, proposes some tactical methods the Israeli prime minister can use to foresee U.S. reactions and how to manage them. They give Netanyahu tips on how to maneuver congressmen, for example. They say Netanyahu should phrase his policies and emphasize those issues important to him in a language familiar to Americans and to use terms that occupied the attention of the American administrations during the Cold War and are relevant to Israel. They even recommend the timing for "winning American support" - before the November 1996 elections.

The document's writers propose Netanyahu press for cooperation on anti-ballistic missile defense, because "it would broaden Israel's base of support among many in the United States Congress who may know little about Israel, but care very much about missile defense."

Such broad support could be helpful in the effort to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, a subject that interests many in Congress, "including those who know very little about Israel."

And how does all this fit into the concept of the peace process, which was then facing one of its darker periods? The term 'peace process' appears in quotes in the document. So does the phrase 'new Middle East,' which, said Perle, Feith, et al "undermines the legitimacy of the nation and leads Israel into strategic paralysis."

12:11 PM

Tuesday, January 28, 2003  
The free-market and good ole American capitalism in action: these are the American companies who supplied Saddam's Iraq with chemical weapons, biological weapons, nuclear weapons (usually with their government's approval), and conventional weapons and delivery systems: Honeywell, Spectra Physics, Semetex, TI Coating, Unisys, Sperry Corp, Tektronix, Rockwell, Leybold Vacuum Systems, Finnigan-MAT-US, Hewlett-Packard, Dupont, Eastman Kodak, American Type Culture Collection, Alcolac International, Consarc, Carl Zeiss - U.S., Cerberus, Electronic Associates, International Computer Systems, Bechtel, EZ Logic Data Systems, Inc., Canberra Industries Inc., Axel Electronics Inc.
6:24 PM

"Just how bad is Texas' budget plight?" the Wall Street Journal (!) wrote. "Had George W. Bush waited to run for president after his second term as governor there ended this month, he likely never would have reached the White House. … Republican leaders here are grappling with a historic shortfall for the state's two-year budget -- $10 billion and rising." [WSJ, Jan. 22, 2003]

6:00 PM

Just hours after the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Rumsfeld wrote, according to a later CBS News report, that he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough [to] hit S.H. at the same time. Not only UBL" - meaning Osama bin Laden. He added: "Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not." But in reality, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and a small band of conservative ideologues had begun making the case for an American invasion of Iraq as early as 1997 - nearly four years before the Sept. 11 attacks and three years before President Bush took office. (See below, posted Saturday January 18, 2003.)

5:21 PM

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