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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, March 15, 2003  
Alongside the aforementioned Fox News article, by the way, are links to:

1. Kissinger-inspired speculation about an Iraqi "pre-emptive strike" ("Will Saddam Strike First? We'll break down the scenarios.") (I guess I just thought Kissinger had been around long enough to remember the good old days when pre-emptive wars were considered destabilizing and unacceptable by the world community, except in cases of obvious imminent threat -- if another nation deployed hundreds of thousands of troops along your border with obvious intent to attack, just for example.)

2. An ad for tomorrow's television: "Brenda Buttner names the stocks that won big when the U.S. won the first Gulf War." (Gee, do you think my money's better off invested with major TV news corporations or with VP Cheney's old buddies at Halliburton and Bechtel?)

"Or I am being too cynical . . . "


5:31 AM


The War of Words continues, and I think we're losing . . .

Fox News continues to play the parrot from Pennsylvania Avenue, offering a direct quote from Ari where headlines used to be:

"Every Last Bit of Diplomacy," -- this quote is the lead headline/link on the index page and appears a second time in paragraph two of the article, though it goes unattributed until its third repetition in . . . paragraph 22, just before this understated kernel of reality: "However, administration officials said there was little chance of changing opponents' minds during a meeting of like-minded leaders 2,300 miles from the U.N. headquarters." Now no one (not on this blog anyway) would count proper usage of four-syllable words as W. & Co's long suit, but in this case what does Ari mean by 'diplomacy' anyway?

"Every Last Bit of Diplomacy" in this case obviously doesn't mean anything like the difficult wee-hours-of-the-morning talks between two or more parties in disagreement that we expect other nations to attempt as an alternative to military violence (Camp David, Wye River, Dayton . . .). Rather, 'diplomacy' in this case means several parties that already agree with each other meeting to discuss how they can escape (with minimal embarrassment and zero compromise) from a diplomaticprocess that's not going their way.

Now admittedly there would be some barriers to traditional marathon diplomacy in this case . . . we all know how George Jr. likes his regular daily schedule, for starters, so naturally any suggestion of late-night talks would be a "non-starter." Then too, the Azores might be simply unable to accomodate all of the delegations that would line up to disagree with us (France, Germany, Russia . . .) or offer compromise (Canada, Chile, Mexico . . .) on one detail or another in this matter. So of course it's only natural that "diplomacy" in this case can't be taken to mean quite the same thing as in some other cases. Mind you we're not actually talking about direct diplomatic engagement with, say, Iraq. I mean our disagreement is with France, after all, not Iraq. Right?

So do this week's veiled apologetics sound a distant echo of familiarity as they try to convince you that war is diplomacy by other means? Maybe it's because the spin on Bush's failed "show your cards on Friday" bluff is starting to sound like a long-ago inversion of that fallacy from the adolescent days of the U.S. military's media deployment: Korea, circa 1953. But who cares about Korea!? Haven't you heard there's an insane dictator in power in Iraq? (I even heard that he tried to buy some uranium somewhere in Africa!)


5:21 AM

How to Buy Conservative Ideas and Influence People: in 1971, two months before Nixon appointed him US Supreme Court justice, Lewis F. Powell wrote a manifesto for the US Chamber of Commerce (a business advocacy group) which called for deliberately re-shaping the policy agenda. His memo led Chamber members Joseph Coors and Christian-right leader Paul Weyrich to found the Heritage Foundation in 1973. Coors said Powell's memo persuaded him that American business was "ignoring a crisis." To this day, the US Chamber of Commerce celebrates Powell's memo, which led to the creation of the Chamber's "National Chamber Litigation Center." The NCLC notes that: "Powell's response detailed how the business community could seize the initiative in presenting its point-of-view in the media, politics and, of course, the courts. Powell wrote: 'Under our constitutional system . . . the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change . . . .This is a vast opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business . . .'" [Did he anticipate Florida-2000?]
Powell warned that "the American economic system is under broad attack," hinted that critics "preferred socialism or some form of statism (communism or fascism)," fretted that the "most disquieting voices joining the chorus of criticism come from perfectly respectable elements of society: from the college campus, the pulpit, the media, the intellectual and literary journals, the arts and sciences, and from politicians," and observed: "Most of the media, including the national TV systems, are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend upon profits, and the enterprise system to survive."
He argued:
>>>The first essential ... is for businessmen to confront this problem as a primary responsibility of corporate management. The overriding first need is for businessmen to recognize that the ultimate issue may be survival -- survival of what we call the free enterprise system... If our system is to survive, top management must be equally concerned with protecting and preserving the system itself. ... A significant first step by individual corporations could well be the designation of an executive vice president (ranking with other executive VP's) whose responsibility is to counter-on the broadest front-the attack on the enterprise system. The public relations department could be one of the foundations assigned to this executive, but his responsibilities should encompass some of the types of activities referred to subsequently in this memorandum. His budget and staff should be adequate to the task. But independent and uncoordinated activity by individual corporations, as important as this is, will not be sufficient. Strength lies in organization, in careful long-range planning and implementation, in consistency of action over an indefinite period of years, in the scale of financing available only through joint effort, and in the political power available only through united action and national organizations. Moreover, there is the quite understandable reluctance on the part of any one corporation to get too far out in front and to make itself too visible a target. The role of the National Chamber of Commerce is therefore vital.

Although origins, sources and causes are complex and interrelated, and obviously difficult to identify without careful qualification, there is reason to believe that the campus is the single most dynamic source. The social science faculties usually include members who are unsympathetic to the enterprise system. They may range from a Herbert Marcuse... to the ambivalent liberal critic who finds more to condemn than to commend. ... Social science faculties (the political scientist, economist, sociologist and many of the historians) tend to be liberally oriented, even when leftists are not present. ... As [their students,] these "bright young men," from campuses across the country, seek opportunities to change a system which they have been taught to distrust ... they seek employment in the centers of the real power and influence in our country, namely: (i) with the news media, especially television; (ii) in government, as "staffers" and consultants at various levels; (iii) in elective politics; (iv) as lecturers and writers, and (v) on the faculties at various levels of education. ... In many instances, these "intellectuals" end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in. [A] priority task of business -- and organizations such as the Chamber -- is to address the campus origin of this hostility. Few things are more sanctified in American life than academic freedom. It would be fatal to attack this as a principle. But if academic freedom is to retain the qualities of "openness," "fairness" and "balance" -- which are essential to its intellectual significance -- there is a great opportunity for constructive action. The thrust of such action must be to restore the qualities just mentioned to the academic communities.

What Can Be Done About the Campus: The ultimate responsibility for intellectual integrity on the campus must remain on the administrations and faculties of our colleges and universities. But organizations such as the Chamber can assist and activate constructive change in many ways, including the following: Staff of Scholars: The Chamber should consider establishing a staff of highly qualified scholars in the social sciences who do believe in the system. ... Staff of Speakers: There also should be a staff of speakers of the highest competency. ... certainly those who speak for the Chamber would have to articulate the product of the scholars. Speaker's Bureau: In addition to full-time staff personnel, the Chamber should have a Speaker's Bureau which should include the ablest and most effective advocates from the top echelons of American business. Evaluation of Textbooks: ... evaluate social science textbooks, especially in economics, political science and sociology. This should be a continuing program. ... Most of the existing textbooks have some sort of comparisons, but many are superficial, biased and unfair. We have seen the civil rights movement insist on re-writing many of the textbooks in our universities and schools. The labor unions likewise insist that textbooks be fair to the viewpoints of organized labor. Other interested citizens groups have not hesitated to review, analyze and criticize textbooks and teaching materials. ... If the authors, publishers and users of textbooks know that they will be subjected ... to review and critique by eminent scholars who believe in the American system, a return to a more rational balance can be expected. Equal Time on the Campus: The Chamber should insist upon equal time on the college speaking circuit. The FBI publishes each year a list of speeches made on college campuses by avowed Communists. The number in 1970 exceeded 100. There were, of course, many hundreds of appearances by leftists and ultra liberals who urge the types of viewpoints indicated earlier in this memorandum. There was no corresponding representation of American business, or indeed by individuals or organizations who appeared in support of the American system of government and business.

It will be said that few invitations would be extended to Chamber speakers. This undoubtedly would be true unless the Chamber aggressively insisted upon the right to be heard -- in effect, insisted upon "equal time." University administrators and the great majority of student groups and committees would not welcome being put in the position publicly of refusing a forum to diverse views, indeed, this is the classic excuse for allowing Communists to speak. The two essential ingredients are (i) to have attractive, articulate and well-informed speakers; and (ii) to exert whatever degree of pressure -- publicly and privately -- may be necessary to assure opportunities to speak. The objective always must be to inform and enlighten, and not merely to propagandize.

Balancing of Faculties: Perhaps the most fundamental problem is the imbalance of many faculties. Correcting this is indeed a long-range and difficult project. Yet, it should be undertaken as a part of an overall program. This would mean the urging of the need for faculty balance upon university administrators and boards of trustees. The methods to be employed require careful thought, and the obvious pitfalls must be avoided. Improper pressure would be counterproductive. But the basic concepts of balance, fairness and truth are difficult to resist, if properly presented to boards of trustees, by writing and speaking, and by appeals to alumni associations and groups. This is a long road and not one for the fainthearted. ...

Graduate Schools of Business: The Chamber should enjoy a particular rapport with the increasingly influential graduate schools of business. Much that has been suggested above applies to such schools. Should not the Chamber also request specific courses in such schools dealing with the entire scope of the problem addressed by this memorandum? This is now essential training for the executives of the future.
Secondary Education: While the first priority should be at the college level, the trends mentioned above are increasingly evidenced in the high schools. Action programs, tailored to the high schools and similar to those mentioned, should be considered.

What Can Be Done About the Public? [What a phrase!] Reaching the campus and the secondary schools is vital for the long-term. Reaching the public generally may be more important for the shorter term. The first essential is to establish the staffs of eminent scholars, writers and speakers, who will do the thinking, the analysis, the writing and the speaking. It will also be essential to have staff personnel who are thoroughly familiar with the media, and how most effectively to communicate with the public. Among the more obvious means are the following:
Television: The national television networks should be monitored in the same way that textbooks should be kept under constant surveillance. This applies not merely to so-called educational programs (such as "Selling of the Pentagon"), but to the daily "news analysis" which so often includes the most insidious type of criticism of the enterprise system. ... This monitoring, to be effective, would require constant examination of the texts of adequate samples of programs. Complaints -- to the media and to the Federal Communications Commission -- should be made promptly and strongly when programs are unfair or inaccurate. Equal time should be demanded when appropriate. Effort should be made to see that the forum-type programs (the Today Show, Meet the Press, etc.) afford at least as much opportunity for supporters of the American system [sic] to participate as these programs do for those who attack it.
Other Media: Radio and the press are also important, and every available means should be employed to challenge and refute unfair attacks, as well as to present the affirmative case through these media.
The Scholarly Journals: It is especially important for the Chamber's "faculty of scholars" to publish. One of the keys to the success of the liberal and leftist faculty members has been their passion for "publication" and "lecturing." A similar passion must exist among the Chamber's scholars. Incentives might be devised to induce more "publishing" by independent [sic!] scholars who do believe in the system. There should be a fairly steady flow of scholarly articles presented to a broad spectrum of magazines and periodicals -- ranging from the popular magazines (Life, Look, Reader's Digest, etc.) to the more intellectual ones (Atlantic, Harper's, Saturday Review, New York, etc.) and to the various professional journals.
Books, Paperbacks and Pamphlets: The news stands -- at airports, drugstores, and elsewhere -- are filled with paperbacks and pamphlets advocating everything from revolution to erotic free love. One finds almost no attractive, well-written paperbacks or pamphlets on "our side." It will be difficult to compete with an Eldridge Cleaver or even a Charles Reich for reader attention, but unless the effort is made -- on a large enough scale and with appropriate imagination to assure some success -- this opportunity for educating the public will be irretrievably lost.
Paid Advertisements: Business pays hundreds of millions of dollars to the media for advertisements. ... If American business devoted only 10% of its total annual advertising budget to this overall purpose, it would be a statesman-like expenditure.

The Neglected Political Arena: In the final analysis, the payoff -- short-of revolution -- is what government does. Business has been the favorite whipping-boy of many politicians for many years. But the measure of how far this has gone is perhaps best found in the anti-business views now being expressed by several leading candidates for President of the United States. It is still Marxist doctrine that the "capitalist" countries are controlled by big business. This doctrine, consistently a part of leftist propaganda all over the world, has a wide public following among Americans. Yet, as every business executive knows, few elements of American society today have as little influence in government as the American businessman, the corporation, or even the millions of corporate stockholders. If one doubts this, let him undertake the role of "lobbyist" for the business point of view before Congressional committees. The same situation obtains in the legislative halls of most states and major cities. One does not exaggerate to say that, in terms of political influence with respect to the course of legislation and government action, the American business executive is truly the "forgotten man."
Current examples of the impotency of business, and of the near-contempt with which businessmen's views are held, are the stampedes by politicians to support almost any legislation related to "consumerism" or to the "environment." [So he excludes consumer, environmental, labor, civil rights, anti-war, and other groups from his definition of "free enterprise"--keep this in mind, below.] Politicians reflect what they believe to be majority views of their constituents. It is thus evident that most politicians are making the judgment that the public has little sympathy for the businessman or his viewpoint.
The educational programs suggested above would be designed to enlighten public thinking ... But one should not postpone more direct political action, while awaiting the gradual change in public opinion to be effected through education and information. Business must learn the lesson, long ago learned by labor and other self-interest groups. This is the lesson that political power is necessary; that such power must be assiduously cultivated; and that when necessary, it must be used aggressively and with determination -- without embarrassment and without the reluctance which has been so characteristic of American business. As unwelcome as it may be to the Chamber, it should consider assuming a broader and more vigorous role in the political arena.

Neglected Opportunity in the Courts: ... Under our constitutional system, especially with an activist-minded Supreme Court, the judiciary may be the most important instrument for social, economic and political change. ... Perhaps the most active exploiters of the judicial system have been groups ranging in political orientation from "liberal" to the far left. The American Civil Liberties Union is one example. ... Labor unions, civil rights groups and now the public interest law firms are extremely active in the judicial arena. Their success, often at business' expense, has not been inconsequential. This is a vast area of opportunity for the Chamber, if it is willing to undertake the role of spokesman for American business and if, in turn, business is willing to provide the funds. ...

Neglected Stockholder Power: The question which merits the most thorough examination is how can the weight and influence of stockholders -- 20 million voters -- be mobilized to support (i) an educational program and (ii) a political action program. Individual corporations are now required to make numerous reports to shareholders. Many corporations also have expensive "news" magazines which go to employees and stockholders. These opportunities to communicate can be used far more effectively as educational media. The corporation itself must exercise restraint in undertaking political action and must, of course, comply with applicable laws. But is it not feasible -- through an affiliate of the Chamber or otherwise -- to establish a national organization of American stockholders and give it enough muscle to be influential?

A More Aggressive Attitude: Business interests -- especially big business and their national trade organizations -- have tried to maintain low profiles, especially with respect to political action. ... While neither responsible business interests, nor the United States Chamber of Commerce, would engage in the irresponsible tactics of some pressure groups, it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system -- at all levels and at every opportunity -- be far more aggressive than in the past. There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system [as he defines it]. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it. [!]

The Cost: The type of program described above (which includes a broadly based combination of education and political action), if undertaken long term and adequately staffed, would require far more generous financial support from American corporations than the Chamber has ever received in the past. High level management participation in Chamber affairs also would be required. The staff of the Chamber would have to be significantly increased, with the highest quality established and maintained. Salaries would have to be at levels fully comparable to those paid key business executives and the most prestigious faculty members. Professionals of the great skill in advertising and in working with the media, speakers, lawyers and other specialists would have to be recruited. ...
Quality Control is Essential: Essential ingredients of the entire program must be responsibility and "quality control." The publications, the articles, the speeches, the media programs, the advertising, the briefs filed in courts, and the appearances before legislative committees -- all must meet the most exacting standards of accuracy and professional excellence. They must merit respect for their level of public responsibility and scholarship, whether one agrees with the viewpoints expressed or not.
Relationship to Freedom: The threat to the enterprise system is not merely a matter of economics. It also is a threat to individual freedom. ... There seems to be little awareness that the only alternatives to free enterprise are varying degrees of bureaucratic regulation of individual freedom -- ranging from that under moderate socialism to the iron heel of the leftist or rightist dictatorship. [If you disagree with him, you are a socialist or totalitarian.]
We in America already have moved very far indeed toward some aspects of state socialism, as the needs and complexities of a vast urban society require types of regulation and control that were quite unnecessary in earlier times. In some areas, such regulation and control already have seriously impaired the freedom of both business and labor, and indeed of the public generally. ... <<<

4:44 AM

Friday, March 14, 2003  
Who forged the documents which Bush and Powell falsely claimed show that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger? ("Must read," it's short). Senator Rockefeller has asked the FBI to investigate. Will we ever learn the answer? Or will this, too, fall into Bush's credibility gap?
9:18 PM

Smoking gun, White House controls quotes in the Washington Post . Read this online letter from a Washington Post journalist. Will the Post have the integrity to *promote* Weisman for this honest reporting? Or will they move him off plum assignments?
It's time to change the rules of WH reporting
3/13/2003 2:41:44 PM, Posted By: Jim Romenesko
From JONATHAN WEISMAN, Economics Writer, Washington Post:
In the wake of Seymour Hersh's open statements about the way the White House treats the press, I feel compelled to relate a personal story that illustrates how both the White House and the press have allowed manipulation of the printed word in Washington to get out of hand. This is a bit of a confession as well as an appeal to the White House and my fellow reporters to rethink the way journalism is practiced these days.
Recently, I was working on a profile of the now-departed chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, R. Glenn Hubbard. I dutifully went through the White House press office to talk to an administration economist about Hubbard's tenure, and a press office aide helpfully got me in touch with just the person I wanted. The catch was this: The interview would be off the record. Any quotes I wanted to put into the newspaper would have to be e-mailed to the press office. [For approval by whom, Karl Rove's staff? Ari?] If approved, the quotation could be attributed to a White House official. (This has become fairly standard practice.)
Since the profile focused on Hubbard's efforts to translate relatively arcane macroeconomic theory into public policy, the quote I wanted referenced the president's effort to end the double taxation of dividends: "This is probably the most academic proposal ever to come out of an administration." The press office said it was fine, but the official wanted a little change. Instead, the quote was to read, "This is probably the purest, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." I protested that the point of the quote was the word "academic," so the quote was again amended to state, "This is probably the purest, most academic, most far reaching economic proposal ever to come out of an administration."
What appeared in the Washington Post was, "This is probably the purest, most academic ... economic proposal ever to come out of an administration." What followed was an angry denunciation by the White House press official, telling me I had broken my word and violated journalistic ethics.
I had, of course, violated journalistic ethics, by placing into quotation marks a phrase that was never uttered by the source, ellipses or no ellipses. I had also played ball with the White House using rules that neither I nor any other reporter should be assenting to. I think it is time for all of us to reconsider the way we cover the White House. If administration officials want to speak off the record, they are off the record. If they are on background as an administration official, I suppose that's the best we can expect. But the notion that reporters are routinely submitting quotations for approval, and allowing those quotes to be manipulated to get that approval, strikes me as a step beyond business as usual.
(The Post's Jill Dutt is now distancing herself from this practice, but are the Post's owners and editors all willing to attest that Weisman was the first and will be the last to do this?)

5:17 PM

A new State Department internal report denies that Iraq will become democratic soon, and warns that even if it does, the democracy will be hostile to the US. (As this blog has said, for months).
>>>A classified State Department report expresses deep skepticism that installing a new regime in Iraq will foster the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a claim President Bush has made in trying to build support for a war, according to intelligence officials familiar with the document. The report exposes significant divisions within the Bush administration over the so-called democratic domino theory, one of the arguments that underpins the case for invading Iraq. The report, which has been distributed to a small group of top government officials but not publicly disclosed, says that daunting economic and social problems are likely to undermine basic stability in the region for years, let alone prospects for democratic reform.
Even if some version of democracy took root -- an event the report casts as unlikely -- anti-American sentiment is so pervasive that elections in the short term could lead to the rise of Islamic-controlled governments hostile to the United States.
"Liberal democracy would be difficult to achieve," says one passage of the report, according to an intelligence official who agreed to read portions of it to the Los Angeles Times. "Electoral democracy, were it to emerge, could well be subject to exploitation by anti-American elements." The thrust of the document, the source said, "is that this idea that you're going to transform the Middle East and fundamentally alter its trajectory is not credible."
Even the document's title appears to dismiss the administration argument. The report is labeled "Iraq, the Middle East and Change: No Dominoes."
The report was produced by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the in-house analytical arm. It is dated Feb. 26, officials said, the same day Bush endorsed the domino theory in a speech to the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. "A new regime in Iraq would serve as a dramatic and inspiring example of freedom for other nations in the region," Bush said. Other top administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, have made similar remarks in recent months.
But the argument has been pushed hardest by a group of officials and advisers who have been the leading proponents of going to war with Iraq. Prominent among them are Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Richard Perle, chairman of the Defense Policy Board, an influential Pentagon advisory panel. Wolfowitz has said that Iraq could be the first Arab democracy and that even modest democratic progress in Iraq would "cast a very large shadow, starting with Syria and Iran but across the whole Arab world." Similarly, Perle has said that a reformed Iraq "has the potential to transform the thinking of people around the world about the potential for democracy, even in Arab countries where people have been disparaging of their potential."
White House officials hold out the promise of a friendly and functional government in Baghdad to contrast with administration portrayals of President Saddam Hussein's regime as brutal and bent on building his stock of biological and chemical weapons. The domino theory also is used by the administration as a counterargument to critics in Congress and elsewhere who have expressed concern that invading Iraq will inflame the Muslim world and fuel terrorist activity against the United States.
But the theory is disputed by many experts and is viewed with skepticism by analysts at the CIA and the State Department, intelligence officials said. Critics say even establishing a democratic government in Iraq will be extremely difficult. Iraq is made up of ethnic groups deeply hostile to one another. Ever since its inception in 1932, the country has known little but bloody coups and brutal dictators. Even so, it is seen by some as holding more democratic potential -- because of its wealth and educated population -- than many of its neighbors.
By some estimates, 65 million adults in the Mideast can't read or write, and 14 million are unemployed, with an exploding, poorly educated youth population. Given such trends, "We'll be lucky to have strong central governments (in the Middle East), let alone democracy," said one intelligence official.
The official stressed that no one in intelligence or diplomatic circles opposes the idea of trying to install a democratic government in Iraq. "It couldn't hurt," the official said. "But to sell (the war) on the basis that this is going to cause 1,000 flowers to bloom is naive." The obstacles to reform outlined in the report are daunting. "Middle East societies are riven" by political, economic and social problems that are likely to undermine stability "regardless of the nature of any externally influenced or spontaneous, indigenous change," the report said...

4:27 PM

Wednesday, March 12, 2003  
Australian senior intelligence officer resigns in protest over Iraq war, after 41 years of service. "For a start, Iraq does not pose a security threat to the U.S, or to the U.K. or Australia, or to any other country, at this point in time," former Office of National Assessments intelligence analyst Andrew Wilkie said. ''As far as I'm aware there was no hard evidence and there is still no hard evidence that there is any active cooperation between Iraq and al-Qaeda." ''I don't believe I could stand by any longer and take no action as this coalition marches to war. I think the interests of the thousands of people, perhaps tens or even more, tens of thousands of people or even more who could be injured, displaced or killed in a war, I think their interests is more important." ''In fact, a war is the exact course of action most likely to cause Saddam to do exactly what we're trying to prevent. I believe it's the course of action that is most likely to cause him to lash out recklessly, to use weapons of mass destruction and to possibly play a terrorism card."
Two days ago, another U.S. diplomat resigned from government service in protest at President Bush's preparations to attack Iraq, the second to do so in less than a month. John H. Brown, who joined the U.S. diplomatic corps in 1981 and served in London, Prague, Krakow, Kiev, Belgrade and Moscow, said in a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell: "I cannot in good conscience support President Bush's war plans against Iraq. Throughout the globe the United States is becoming associated with the unjustified use of force. The president's disregard for views in other nations, borne out by his neglect of public diplomacy, is giving birth to an anti-American century," the diplomat added. Brown has recently been attached to the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington. Immediately before that, he was cultural attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.
Last week, yet another Foreign Service Officer resigned, J. Brady Kiesling, with a heartfelt resignation letter.

9:53 PM

Where's Dick? Cheney has had an enormous influence in shaping US policy toward Iraq (and elsewhere), yet not a peep has been heard from him in months. What's the scoop?
9:38 PM

Tuesday, March 11, 2003  
Pentagon threatens to kill independent Western journalists in Iraq, reports Irish radio. >>>The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war correspondent, Kate Adie. In an interview with Irish radio, Ms. Adie said that questioned about the consequences of such potentially fatal actions, a senior Pentagon officer had said: "Who cares.. ..They've been warned." According to Ms. Adie, who twelve years ago covered the last Gulf War, the Pentagon attitude is: "entirely hostile to the the free spread of information. I am enormously pessimistic of the chance of decent on-the-spot reporting, as the war occurs," she told Irish national broadcaster, Tom McGurk on the RTE1 Radio "Sunday Show." Ms. Adie made the startling revelations during a discussion of media freedom issues in the likely upcoming war in Iraq. She also warned that the Pentagon is vetting journalists according to their stance on the war, and intends to take control of US journalists' satellite equipment --in order to control access to the airwaves. Another guest on the show, war author Phillip Knightley, reported that the Pentagon has also threatened they: "may find it necessary to bomb areas in which war correspondents are attempting to report from the Iraqi side."<<<
12:10 PM

Monday, March 10, 2003  
Bush Jr's news conference raises questions even in mainstream media about his state of mind: Maureen Dowd (New York Times) labels him the "Xanax cowboy" and writes he "seemed tranquilized." Tom Shales (Washington Post) writes: >>>There were times when it appeared his train of thought had jumped the tracks. Occasionally he would stare blankly into space during lengthy pauses between statements -- pauses that once or twice threatened to be endless. ... Network commentators by and large tippy-toed around the subject of Bush's curiously subdued performance. [!] ... It hardly seems out of order to speculate that, given the particularly heavy burden ... the president may have been ever so slightly medicated [sic!]. He would hardly be the first president ever to take a pill. There were brief interludes during the news conference -- especially the long languid pauses -- when some viewers might have flashed back to the presidency of Richard Nixon. ... [When viewers would be] a trifle terrified of what he might say, who he'd accuse of persecuting him, and whether he might come completely unglued or just melt into a hideous puddle right before your horrified eyes.<<< Business Week writes: "'Maniacal' is the way President George W. Bush's growing legion of critics describe him as he serenely commits the U.S. to the first unprovoked attack on another country in the nation's history."

More critical press minced fewer words, calling Bush a "dry drunk" and questioning his competence to lead the country:
Alan Bisbort (columnist for the Hartford Advocate, in American Politics Journal), "Dry Drunk: is Bush making a cry for help?". >>>Alcoholics Anonymous has a name for someone who is a drunk in every way [with clouded thinking] except for the actual imbibing of spirits. They call that person a "dry drunk." This is not a judgmental term ... [Bush possesses the characteristics of the "dry drunk" in terms of: his incoherence while speaking away from the script; his irritability with anyone (for example, Germany's Schröder) who dares disagree with him; and his dangerous obsessing about only one thing (Iraq) to the exclusion of all other things.] George W. Bush needs an intervention. Let's be his interveners. Let's raise our sober voices. Let's ask questions, demand more than temper tantrums and pouting from the Commander in Chief. Let's do this before it's too late and a dry drunk's dream of glory becomes our national nightmare.<<<

Katherine van Wormer (co-author of Addiction Treatment, 2002, and Professor of Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa ), "Addiction, Brain Damage and the President: 'Dry Drunk' Syndrome and George W. Bush": >>>Such an individual tends to go to extremes. ... Something about the polarized thinking and the obsessive repetition reminded me of many of the recovering alcoholics/addicts I had treated. ... "Dry drunk" traits consist of: Exaggerated self-importance and pomposity; Grandiose behavior; A rigid, judgmental outlook; Impatience; Childish behavior; Irresponsible behavior; Irrational rationalization; Projection; Overreaction. Clearly, George W. Bush has all these traits except ... his actual importance hardly can be exaggerated. His power, in fact, is such that if he collapses into paranoia, a large part of the world will collapse with him. Unfortunately, there are some indications of paranoia... The trait of projection is evidenced here as well, projection of the fact that we are ready to attack onto another nation which may not be so inclined.
Bush's rigid, judgmental outlook comes across in virtually all his speeches. ... Consider his statement with reference to Israel: "Look my job isn't to try to nuance. I think moral clarity is important... this is evil versus good." Bush's tendency to dichotomize reality is ... symptomatic of the classic addictive thinking pattern. I describe this thinking distortion in Addiction Treatmentas either/or reasoning-- "either you are with us or against us." Oddly, Bush used those very words in his dealings with other nations. All-or-nothing thinking is a related mode of thinking commonly found in newly recovering alcoholics/addicts. Such a worldview traps people in a pattern of destructive behavior.
Obsessive thought patterns are also pronounced in persons prone to addiction. There are organic reasons for this due to brain chemistry irregularities; messages in one part of the brain become stuck there. This leads to maddening repetition of thoughts. President Bush seems unduly focused on getting revenge on Saddam Hussein ("he tried to kill my Dad") leading the country and the world into war, accordingly.
Grandiosity enters the picture as well. What Bush is proposing to Congress is not the right to attack on one country but a total shift in military policy: America would now have the right to take military action before the adversary even has the capacity to attack. This is in violation, of course, of international law as well as national precedent. How to explain this grandiose request? Jane Bryant Quinn provides the most commonly offered explanation in a recent Newsweek editorial, "Iraq: It's the Oil, Stupid." Many other opponents of the Bush doctrine similarly seek a rational motive behind the obsession over first, the war on terror and now, Iraq. I believe the explanation goes deeper than oil, that Bush's logic is being given too much credit; I believe his obsession is far more visceral. On this very day, a peace protestor in Portland held up the sign, "Drunk on Power." This, I believe, is closer to the truth.
The drive for power can be an unquenchable thirst, addictive in itself
. Senator William Fulbright, in his popular bestseller of the 1960s, The Arrogance of Power, masterfully described the essence of power-hungry politics as the pursuit of power; this he conceived as an end in itself. "The causes and consequences of war may have more to do with pathology than with politics," he wrote, "more to do with irrational pressures of pride and pain than with rational calculation of advantage and profit."
Another "dry drunk" trait is impatience. Bush is far from a patient man: "If we wait for threats to fully materialize," he said in a speech he gave at West Point, "we will have waited too long." Significantly, Bush only waited for the United Nations and for Congress to take up the matter of Iraq's disarmament with extreme reluctance. ...
In short, George W. Bush seems to possess the traits characteristic of addictive persons who still have the thought patterns that accompany substance abuse. If we consult the latest scientific findings, we will discover that scientists can now observe changes that occur in the brain as a result of heavy alcohol and other drug abuse. Some of these changes may be permanent. Except in extreme cases, however, these cognitive impairments would not be obvious to most observers.
To reach any conclusions we need of course to know Bush's personal history relevant to drinking/drug use. ... Yes, there was much drunkenness, years of binge drinking starting in college, at least one conviction for DUI in 1976 in Maine, and one arrest before that for a drunken episode involving theft of a Christmas wreath. ... Bush later explained: "[A]lcohol began to compete with my energies....I'd lose focus." Although he once said he couldn't remember a day he hadn't had a drink, he added that he didn't believe he was "clinically alcoholic." Even his father, who had known for years that his son had a serious drinking problem, publicly proclaimed: "He was never an alcoholic. It's just he knows he can't hold his liquor." Bush drank heavily for over 20 years until he made the decision to abstain at age 40. About this time he became a "born again Christian," going as usual from one extreme to the other. ... When asked in another interview about his reported drug use, he answered honestly, "I'm not going to talk about what I did 20 to 30 years ago." That there might be a tendency toward addiction in Bush's family is indicated in the recent arrests or criticism of his daughters for underage drinking and his niece for cocaine possession. ... The fact that some residual effects from his earlier substance abuse, however slight, might cloud the U.S. President's thinking and judgment is frightening, however, in the context of the current global crisis.
One final consideration that might come into play in the foreign policy realm relates to Bush's history relevant to his father. The Bush biography reveals the story of a boy named for his father, sent to the exclusive private school in the East where his father's reputation as star athlete and later war hero were still remembered. The younger George's achievements were dwarfed in the school's memory of his father. Athletically he could not achieve his father's laurels, being smaller and perhaps less strong. His drinking bouts and lack of intellectual gifts held him back as well. He was popular and well liked, however. His military record was mediocre as compared to his father's as well. Bush entered the Texas National Guard. What he did there remains largely a mystery. There are reports of a lot of barhopping during this period. It would be only natural that Bush would want to prove himself today, that he would feel somewhat uncomfortable following, as before, in his father's footsteps. I mention these things because when you follow his speeches, Bush seems bent on a personal crusade. One motive is to avenge his father. Another seems to be to prove himself to his father. In fact, Bush seems to be trying somehow to achieve what his father failed to do - - to finish the job of the Gulf War, to get the "evildoer" Saddam.
To summarize, George W. Bush manifests all the classic patterns of what alcoholics in recovery call "the dry drunk." His behavior is consistent with barely noticeable but meaningful brain damage brought on by years of heavy drinking and possible cocaine use. All the classic patterns of addictive thinking that are spelled out in my book are here: the tendency to go to extremes (leading America into a massive 100 billion dollar strike-first war); a "kill or be killed mentality;" the tunnel vision; "I" as opposed to "we" thinking; the black and white polarized thought processes (good versus evil, all or nothing thinking). His drive to finish his father's battles is of no small significance, psychologically. If the public (and politicians) could only see what Fulbright noted as the pathology in the politics. One day, sadly, they will.<<<

Michael O'McCarthy (CounterPunch), "George W. and Alcoholism": >>>However I believe that it essential to understand the emotional, mental and spiritual state of the unrecovered and practicing alcoholic in order to understand the 'dry drunk.' Common traits of the alcoholic are a concurrent sense of superiority along with an inferiority complex. A sense of never fitting in. Feeling irritable and discontent, or not comfortable in one's own skin. A childish selfishness that is never satisfied by people, places or things. An innate fear that someone is always trying to take away what the alcoholic has, or will deprive them of what they think is their due. Often, anger, resentment and rage are the only 'true' emotions that the alcoholic exhibits. At the same time, because of these emotional state's relationship to the chemistry of the central nervous system, they alone can 'fuel' the alcoholic's behavior. The alcoholic functions on 'self-will' or 'self-will run riot.' The alcoholic's favorite phrase is: 'my way or the highway.'
Then along comes alcohol. In the beginning its use brings a false sense of 'well being.' The alcoholic only feels 'normal' when under the abnormal influence of a mind-altering chemical. ... In other words, as indicated by the American Medical Association, and now by countless clinical studies of behavior, physiology and mental health, the practicing and unrecovered alcoholic is a very sick person. Often, at various times in the alcoholic's life, as the disease takes more toll, the alcohol no longer works or soothes the continually irritated state of the alcoholic. Then and/or when, the behaviors caused by the toxic allergic effects of the alcohol produce periods of out of control insanity the alcoholic often becomes both suicidal and homicidal.
At this point only total abstinence and a 'psychic' change in personality, as Jung described it, seems to save the alcoholic. Most often this 'psychic' change is spiritual in nature, followed by a life altered course based on spiritual principles that are practiced one day at a time by the recovering/recovered alcoholic. These are most often found in a continued lifetime utilizing Twelve Step recovery programs.
Where this does not take place, that is when the alcoholic drinks again, the alcoholic can only become worse. Or, when the alcoholic only abstains but does not experience the 'psychic' change and alter life behaviors based on spiritual principles, the alcoholic, as described in the afore mentioned articles, becomes very much the same person as when drinking. Only the fuel becomes self-will and self-centered fear and an obsession to control everything and everybody. In the average alcoholic this simply means that no one but masochists and enablers wish to befriend him/her. He/she is a miserable, unrelenting pain in the ass and/or a tyrant. Another core mental characteristic of both the practicing alcoholic and the dry drunk is denial. ... For the dry drunk to maintain a rational appearance requires that he/she proclaim that they are not alcoholic. Or as Bush said, he was not "clinically alcoholic." ... In the political environment the enablers are the political minions or manipulators of the ill alcoholic. In persons with external power/control over their domain ... these people become dangerous to the well being of those around them. To a state ruler, depending upon the weaponry at command, they become dangerous to an entire universe.<<<
See also O'McCarthy's "Is Bush a 'Dry Drunk' This is a Serious, Not Just a Provocative Question": >>>President George W. Bush shows every sign of a mental obsession that is rendering him dysfunctional. This obsession that he alone is right in his view of the world is driven by the complex ingredients of egomania and inferiority symptomatic to that found in the medical diagnostic description of the illness of alcoholism.<<<

4:19 PM

Is "W" a bad apple who fell far from the family Bush? Bush Sr. is critical of unilateralism. Former President George H.W. Bush told a Tufts audience that the United States needs to make clear its respect for Islam; it must continue its "honor-bound duty to defeat small bands of extremists who seek to harm our country," [note his emphasis on 'small bands' not states!] and it must "make clear that the new world order is not a code for American imperialism." "The question is, how much does [Saddam] have in the way of weapons of mass destruction? That could be debated." "Now, I'm not saying that this is a big conspiracy between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein..." (!) In the early '90s, Bush said, the success of the UN-backed Operation Desert Storm helped re-energize the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians and helped lead to the multilateral Madrid Conference in fall 1991 that was co-sponsored by the United States and the then-Soviet Union. "I remember refusing to give Israel loan guarantees for settlements if they continued to build settlements in the occupied territories," the elder Bush recalled at Tufts. "I said, 'We're not going to do it.' And I paid a hell of a price for it." One of the keys to that success, he said, was the U.S. decision not to invade Iraq or attempt to depose Hussein at the war's end. "I'll never forget walking into that peace conference [in Madrid] after Desert Storm and seeing Israelis with Arabs, side by side, seeing Arabs and Israelis beginning to talk about peace. It was very emotional. And, it never would have happened if the [U.S] had exceeded the UN mandate and had gone on. We would have lost all support from our coalition, with the possible exception of England," he said. In the wake of 9/11, he cautioned, many in the United States are perpetuating harmful images of Arabs and Muslims. Bush Sr. also urged the US to resist the tendency to bear grudges, advising us to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany. “You’ve got to reach out to the other person. You’ve got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity,” he said. The case against Saddam is “less clear” than in 1991, when Mr Bush Sr led an international coalition to expel invading Iraqi troops from Kuwait. Objectives were “a little fuzzier today”, he added.
Salon writes that Iraq invasion represents the ultimate act of anti-father rebellion. Business Week writes: "Where This Bush Parts Ways with Dad: When it comes to planning for war, just about everywhere. Not following his father's successful strategies could be George W.'s biggest mistake . ... Like father, like son? Not quite. What's stunning in private -- and perplexing, even saddening, to senior aides from the first Bush Presidency who aren't part of this Administration -- is the current President's decision to shun the substantive gameplan that his father used to achieve his greatest triumph. After all, Bush's father wrote the modern book on how to marshal an international coalition against a rogue regime bent on mayhem. Yet, with war perhaps days away, this President has at every point turned away from much of his father's foreign policy wisdom, and he has elevated the second showdown with Saddam to the largest of gambles. How has Bush gone against his father on the foreign policy stage? Let's count the ways..."

3:14 PM

>>>Where Are The Democrats?, by Bill Moyers
There was news a report in Washington this week about how Democrats and Republicans in Congress conspired to close down the investigation of an alleged abuse of power by a leading member of the House. Now we'll never know the truth of the matter. The story reminded me of a conversation I had many years ago with a constitutional scholar who said the most important function of one political party is to keep the other party honest. "No party investigates itself," he said, "so the public safety depends on each party shining the spotlight of scrutiny on the shenanigans of the other."
Once upon a time, this happened quite often. Both parties could be counted on to mock the deceit, hypocrisy, and pretensions of the opposition, while they cloaked their own vices in the warm pieties of patriotism and altruism. They also challenged one another's belief systems with the two-fisted ferocity of street brawlers. Such spirited partisanship wasn't a pretty sight for children, but it offered choices, got the public's attention, and aroused a robust and sometimes ribald participation in democracy. Politics mattered.
Things have changed. Republicans still love a good brawl -- they could appreciate the movie the Gangs of New York. Because they will claw, scratch, jam their knee to your groin and land an uppercut to the jaw after the bell has rung - and if they don't finish the job their partisan press will do it for them: Rush Limbaugh and the Darth Vaders of talk radio; the pamphleteers at the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and a host of publications aided by big business.
But where are the Democrats? As the Republicans were coming back from the wilderness -- lean, mean and hungry -- Democrats were busy assimilating their opponents' belief system. In no small part because they coveted the same corporate money, Democrats practically walked away from the politics of struggle, leaving millions of working people with no one to fight for them. We see the consequences all around us in what a friend of mine calls "a suffocating consensus." Even as poverty spreads, inequality grows, and our quality of life diminishes, Democrats have become the doves of class warfare.
Then there's the other war that's about to happen. Whether you are for or against it, invading Iraq is a reckless diversion of resources and a huge distraction from what ails us. But Democrats signed a blank check over to the President last fall because their leaders wanted "to move on to more important things," namely the mid-term elections, which they lost anyway.
Now Democrats in Congress are so deeply divided and impotent that Ralph Nader is thinking of running again. Maybe third parties will eventually invigorate politics. But what I wouldn't give for a revival of that old-time religion, when both major parties locked horns with the devil -- that is, with each other. An Irishman once asked -- "is this a private fight or can anyone get in it?" -- Well Democrats could answer that by crawling back in the ring, and duking it out. Who knows? They might even save the Republicans from themselves.<<<

9:49 AM

>>>Just War -- or a Just War?; by JIMMY CARTER, New York Times, March 9, 2003
Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.
As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.
For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.
The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options -- previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations -- were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.
The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.
Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.
The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.
The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.
What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions -- with war as a final option -- will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.
Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.<<<

9:45 AM

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