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.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
As stated often before, no-one doubts the US will overthrow Saddam--that's a given. The problems with the way we are doing it begin in the years afterwards--perhaps even after the 2004 election. As Gen. Wesley Clark writes, "Almost nothing from the lessons of postwar Japan can be applied directly to Iraq." That's what we wrote last month. Just to re-iterate some of the key differences between the US occupation of Japan, Germany and Iraq:
* Cataclysmic war had killed millions of people, by 1945.
* US dropped nuclear bombs on Japan, and had a monopoly on nuclear weapons.
* Stateless terrorists with WMD did not exist.
* The war was over, not on-going (as in the real post-9/11 'war on terror'--which is against a diffuse web of fanatical terrorists [who use the name of Islam to rationalize their crimes], not the secular 'infidel' Saddam).
* Broad consensus for occupation existed, after the Potsdam Conference.
* Emperor Hirohito surrendered unconditionally. The US occupation was peaceful, without clashes, and in a spirit of consensus.
* The Emperor remained a symbolic head of state, to provide unity, continuity, and stability. No such leader will exist in post-war Iraq.
* Both Germany and Japan had some prior experience with legislative democracy (Weimar, Diet)--vital, according to theorists.
* Both had a history of relatively strong "civil society," social organizations outside the political control of the state.
* Both had highly developed "arts of association" (Tocqueville), which permitted non-violent resolution of low-level disputes.
* Both had high human capital, with higher literacy and education rates, which favor democracy.
* Neither had destabilizing neighbors (vs. Syria, Iran, Saudi, Egypt);
* in fact important German and Japanese neighbors strongly supported the occupation (France, China, etc.).
* Neither had ethnic divisions (vs. Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis in Iraq).
* Neither had tribal divisions (vs. within the ruling Sunni minority clans in Iraq).
* No galvanizing provocation (vs. US troops in holy lands like Saudi, seizure of oil-fields, support for Israeli settlements policy).
* No church-state conflicts (vs. Islam, an all-consuming religion).
* No growing pool of anti-US sympathizers (vs. many now, in the 1.2 billion Muslim world).
* No 1,000 year-old history of animosity between civilizations (vs. the Crusades). (Similar culture with Germany. Japan isolated, so less conflict.)
* MacArthur had a deep understanding of Japanese history and culture, and he respected it (and the Japanese respected him). Vs. Bush, now.
In short, there is very little in common--other than a U.S. occupation and the hope that it goes well.
Did the US break its word, at the UN? US Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte described UN Resolution 1441 to the Security Council as follows, on the day the resolution passed: "There's no 'automaticity' and this is a two-stage process, and in that regard we have met the principal concerns that have been expressed for the resolution. Whatever violation there is, or is judged to exist, will be dealt with in the council, and the council will have an opportunity to consider the matter before any other action is taken." As Josh Marshall points out, 1441 called on the UN Security Council to decide if there was a breach. "This was the price we paid for getting for getting the unanimous vote," Marshall writes. Molly Ivins adds, "And that is why the other nations so bitterly feel 'had' on this. No one likes people who deal in bad faith."
Rachel Corrie, from Olympia, WA. If you don't know the name, you should. A few links: pictures, the story as first reported, Rachel's articulate and poignant emails here, and here, and here. (They're worth reading). And her memorial service at Evergreen College, with memories shared by her parents, brother and sister, boyfriend, friends, teachers from grade school onward, neighbors and colleagues. Many more pictures and stories are available on the web.
Ask forgiveness for those who criticize her.
Will the Bush Administration "plant" evidence in Iraq? These are the same people who lied in 1991 about "250,000 Iraqi troops amassed on the Saudi border", and "babies torn from their incubators"--lies spread by public relations firms including Hill & Knowlton, led by Bush Sr.'s adviser (and former chief-of-staff), Craig Fuller. They are the same people who lied about alleged uranium shipments (via taxicab!) from Turkey, who used forged documents to scare Americans into thinking Iraq bought uranium from Niger (then refused to investigate who forged the documents, despite requests by Sen. Rockefeller and Rep. Waxman), who repeatedly stretched the truth beyond recognition to suggest that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and with Al Qaeda, who lied about alleged VX nerve gas transfers from Iraq to Al Qaeda, who lied about intelligence on Iraq's use of aluminum tubes for a nuclear program, who misled about the possible dual-use of a factory and trucks, who twisted a 12 year-old public dissertation into 'secret intelligence' and misrepresented its findings, who greatly inflated the threat posed by an Iraqi drone plane (held together with duct tape), etc., and who have engaged in fear-mongering for partisan gain since 9/11/01.
Current CIA officers accuse the Administration of politicizing intelligence. The New York Timesreports:
>>>C.I.A. Aides Feel Pressure in Preparing Iraqi Reports. The recent disclosure that reports claiming Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger were based partly on forged documents has renewed complaints among analysts at the C.I.A. about the way intelligence related to Iraq has been handled, several intelligence officials said. Analysts at the agency said they had felt pressured to make their intelligence reports on Iraq conform to Bush administration policies. For months, a few C.I.A. analysts have privately expressed concerns to colleagues and Congressional officials that they have faced pressure in writing intelligence reports to emphasize links between Saddam Hussein's government and Al Qaeda. ... "A lot of analysts have been upset about the way the Iraq-Al Qaeda case has been handled," said one intelligence official familiar with the debate. That debate was renewed after the disclosure two weeks ago by Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, that the claim that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger was based partly on forged documents. The claim had been cited publicly by President Bush. "The forgery heightened people's feelings that they were being embarrassed by the way Iraqi intelligence has been handled," said one government official who has talked with C.I.A. analysts about the issue. The forged documents were not created by the C.I.A. or any other United States government agency, and C.I.A. officials were always suspicious of the documents, American intelligence officials said. But the information still ended up being used in public by Mr. Bush [in his State of the Union address]. Several analysts have told colleagues they have become so frustrated that they have considered leaving the agency, according to government officials who have talked with the analysts. ... At the State Department ... three foreign service officers have resigned in protest over Mr. Bush's policies.<<<
There is a cost to this abuse of intelligence and "crying 'wolf'". So, yes, at least some people think they will plant evidence. And some think the Administration will plant evidence linking the anthrax attacks to Saddam. (After all, the strain is probably the same, because the US government approved the sale of anthrax to Iraq umpteen times in the 1980s, by the "American Type Culture Collection". And the FBI has made little public progress in the investigation of the anthrax killer, which it thinks is homegrown).
Given the facts, are these unreasonable hypotheses to ask? One can at least expect that the Administration will exaggerate their finds or use them for PR, like the 'discovery' of a chemical weapons factory, announced when the war was not going well, even though it had been suspected for 12 years. (Why didn't we tell the UN inspectors about it, if so? The initial news reports in the Jerusalem Post--where Richard Perle is a director and on Fox-TV--where Roger Ailes is news director, asserted that the factory was for chemical weapons. Then, later reports backed off from this.)
Our view is less cynical, and more critical: Bush does not need to plant WMD, because we all know Saddam has them. This has never been the right question. By asking about 'planted weapons', critics are buying into Bush's agenda, the idea that if Saddam has WMD we must invade now, in a US-UK "coalition" with Spain and several smaller countries offering lip-service and a few hundred troops. Saddam's sadistic regime was despicable, and deserved to be overthrown sometime by a true multilateral coalition with UN support (as in Gulf War 1991). He, his sons, and top leaders should all be publicly tried for crimes against humanity--using the very international legal system which the Bush Administration has been so quick to enfeable. But the right question to ask is: would he have used WMD against us, and did we need to invade now, while Al Qaeda and North Korea are the primary threats? The answer is "No."
Richard Perle is coming under the spotlight for conflicts of interests, and abuse of political power for personal gain. His reaction? Ad hominem attacks against his accusers. Will the Republican Congress begin an investigation? (After all, they spent $70 million to investigate a small, failed real-estate investment by Clinton, and came up concluding he'd done nothing wrong). Don't bet in it. Perle, by the way, seems grateful for the death of the UN.
1) >>>Even as he advises the Pentagon on war matters, Richard N. Perle, chairman of the influential Defense Policy Board, has been retained by the telecommunications company Global Crossing to help overcome Defense Department resistance to its proposed sale to a foreign firm, Mr. Perle and lawyers involved in the case said today. ... [The Board's] chairman is considered a "special government employee," subject to federal ethics rules, including one that bars anyone from using public office for private gain. ... Mr. Perle is to be paid $725,000 by the company, including $600,000 if the government approves the sale of the company to a joint venture of Hutchison Whampoa, controlled by the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, and Singapore Technologies Telemedia... Lawyers said today that Mr. Perle ... was brought in as a prominent Republican with close ties to the current officials. He has taken on a particularly important role, they said, since the company recently pulled back its request for the government to clear the sale in the face of opposition from the Defense Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Those agencies have said that the proposed deal presents national security and law enforcement problems, because it would put Global Crossing's worldwide fiber optics network — one used by the United States government — under Chinese ownership.
Mr. Perle and his lawyers were preparing to file an affidavit dated March 7 and a legal notice dated today, March 20, that said he was uniquely qualified to advise the company on the matter because of his job as head of the Defense Policy Board. But after a reporter raised questions today about whether Mr. Perle was using his job at the Defense Policy Board for the benefit of a client, they said the references to his job should not have been in the legal papers and would be deleted before they were filed in the bankruptcy proceeding. In the March 7 affidavit, Mr. Perle said, "As the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, I have a unique perspective on and intimate knowledge of the national defense and security issues that will be raised by the CFIUS review process that is not and could not be available to the other CFIUS professionals." The company used similar language in its legal notice. CFIUS refers to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, a government group that includes representatives from the Defense Department and other agencies. It has been considering the deal and has the power to block it. ... After consulting with a company lawyer, Mr. Perle called back and in a third conversation said that he had taken the phrase out of the affidavit "because it seemed inappropriate and irrelevant" but that someone put it back in the document and he signed it without noticing it. ...
Mr. Perle said he did not seek an ethics opinion as to whether he could work on the Global Crossing matter, because he said it posed no legal problems. "I've abided by the rules," he said. "The question, I should think, is have I recommended anything to the secretary or discussed this with the secretary, and I haven't," he said, referring to Mr. Rumsfeld. ... But other lawyers and advisers to the companies involved in the deal said that Mr. Perle had been brought in precisely because he has access to top officials. They noted that Mr. Perle's fee was largely contingent on the deal's being approved, an unusual arrangement in Washington legal circles. And they noted that he was retained after Global Crossing, which has a history of using well-connected lobbyists, had realized that many of the other lawyers and lobbyists had strong Democratic ties but no solid Republican ones. Among others who have been retained to gain approval of the proposed deal are Thomas F. McLarty III, the former Clinton chief of staff; Stuart E. Eizenstat, a former deputy Treasury secretary, and lawyers at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Dewey Ballantine. Mr. Perle ... spoke on Wednesday in a conference call sponsored by Goldman Sachs, in which he advised participants on possible investment opportunities arising from the war. The conference's title was "Implications of an Imminent War: Iraq Now. North Korea Next?"<<<
2) >>>Pentagon hawk linked to UK intelligence company . Richard Perle is director of firm selling terror alert software. Amid general stock market jitters, one British company linked to the American hawk Richard Perle and dealing with secret intelligence is among the few UK commercial organisations that stand to profit from the Iraq war and its accompanying worldwide terrorist alert. The Cambridge-based Autonomy Corporation, with Mr Perle's help, is secretively selling advanced computer eavesdropping systems to intelligence agencies around the world. Its software simultaneously monitors hundreds of thousands of intercepted emails and phone conversations while they are taking place. Clients to date are believed to include MI6 and GCHQ, the newly launched US department of homeland security in Washington, and intelligence agencies in Italy. Mr Perle, long one of the most high-profile proponents of war with Iraq, is a director of Autonomy with an option on 75,000 of the company's shares ... Mr Perle, a former Pentagon appointee, was recruited by Autonomy shortly before the Bush administration came to power in 2000. ... Mr Perle has roamed the world promoting war against Saddam Hussein and linking him to the al-Qaida terrorist network. Such fears have caused an unprecedented surge in international intelligence activity. ... At the beginning of the year, boasting of his company's profitability record, the chief executive, Mike Lynch, said in London that the threat of war in Iraq had helped sales to intelligence agencies, as "defence issues come more to mind, which frees up the mind to spend".
3) Seymour Hersh exposed Perle's influence-peddling on behalf of Trireme Partners LP venture-capital company, where is is a managing partner (and Henry Kissinger is an adviser). Hersh documents Perle's meetings with Saudi arms-trader Adnan Kashoggi and ten other, each of whom he wanted to invest $10 million in his company. Hersh writes: >>>As Khashoggi saw it, Trireme's business potential depended on a war in Iraq taking place. "If there is no war," he told me, "why is there a need for security? If there is a war, of course, billions of dollars will have to be spent." He commented, "You Americans blind yourself with your high integrity and your democratic morality against peddling influence, but they were peddling influence." ... Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Ambassador to the United States, told Hersh, "There is a split personality to Perle. Here he is, on the one hand, trying to make a hundred-million-dollar deal, and, on the other hand, there were elements of the appearance of blackmail -- 'If we get in business, he'll back off on Saudi Arabia' -- as I have been informed by participants in the meeting."<<< In reaction, Perle used an interview with CNN's White House press-lacky Wolf Blitzer to accuse Hersh of being a terrorist. Read the transcript:
PERLE: Look, Sy Hersh is the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist, frankly.
BLITZER: Well, on the basis of -- why do you say that? A terrorist?
PERLE: Because he's widely irresponsible. If you read the article, it's first of all, impossible to find any consistent theme in it. But the suggestion that my views are somehow related for the potential for investments in homeland defense is complete nonsense.
BLITZER: But I don't understand. Why do you accuse him of being a terrorist?
PERLE: Because he sets out to do damage and he will do it by whatever innuendo, whatever distortion he can -- look, he hasn't written a serious piece since My Lai.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there.
Perle is now threatening to sue Hersh in London--because it's far easier to win a libel conviction under England's laws than in the US. Perle is also a Director of the Jerusalem Post and the NY Sun, via the Hollinger Corp, among other business dealings. (Hollinger is owned by Conrad Black, who competes only with Rupert Murdoch for his conservative views and his media empire, which includes London's Daily Telegraph, the Chicago Sun-Times, the Sydney Morning Herald and over 400 others).
How many more conflicts does Perle have?
4)? 5)? 6)? 7)? 8)? 9)? 10)?
"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else." --Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, 1918, in his essay Lincoln and Free Speech.
Friday, March 21, 2003 Bush's PR handlers will now physically control television broadcasts from the White House, after the BBC aired live video of President Bush getting his hair coiffed, squirming in his chair, eyes darting to and fro, practicing on the teleprompter, and pumping the air with his fist, minutes before Wednesday night's speech announcing the launch of military operations against Saddam Hussein. The British network broadcast 1 minute and 37 seconds of presidential primping to hundreds of millions of viewers in 200 countries around the world. "The facts are that it was an unauthorized use of footage and video," a senior White House official told us. Henceforth, the official said, the White House -- not the networks -- will throw the switches that make pool feeds available to broadcast outlets. "We have to make sure we are comfortable with the situation." 9:51 AM
Thursday, March 20, 2003
A Washington Times (of all places!) columnist writes: "Will Bush be impeached? Will he be called a war criminal? These are not hyperbolic questions. Mr. Bush has permitted a small cadre of neoconservatives to isolate him from world opinion, putting him at odds with the United Nations and America's allies."
Texas-based, right-wing radio conglomerate sponsors pro-Bush/pro-war rallies.
>>>rallies this month have endorsed President Bush's strategy against Saddam Hussein, and the common thread linking most of them is Clear Channel Worldwide Inc., the nation's largest owner of radio stations. In a move that has raised eyebrows in some legal and journalistic circles, Clear Channel radio stations in Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, Cincinnati and other cities have sponsored rallies attended by up to 20,000 people. The events have served as a [Ed: joke in contrast to] ... the more numerous [and much larger] anti-war rallies. The sponsorship of large rallies by Clear Channel stations is unique among major media companies, which have confined their activities in the war debate to reporting and occasionally commenting on the news. The San Antonio-based broadcaster owns more than 1,200 stations in 50 states and the District of Columbia.... "I think this is pretty extraordinary," said former Federal Communications Commissioner Glen Robinson, who teaches law at the University of Virginia. "I can't say that this violates any of a broadcaster's obligations, but it sounds like borderline manufacturing of the news." A spokeswoman for Clear Channel said the rallies, called "Rally for America," are the idea of Glenn Beck, a Philadelphia talk show host whose program is syndicated by Premier Radio Networks, a Clear Channel subsidiary. ... Clear Channel is by far the largest owner of radio stations in the nation. The company owned only 43 in 1995, but when Congress removed many of the ownership limits in 1996, Clear Channel was quickly on the highway to radio dominance. The company owns and operates 1,233 radio stations and claims 100 million listeners. Clear Channel generated about 20 percent of the radio industry's $16 billion in 2001 revenues.
The media giant's size also has generated criticism. Some recording artists have charged that Clear Channel's dominance in radio and concert promotions is hurting the recording industry. Congress is investigating the effects of radio consolidation. And the FCC is considering ownership rule changes, among them changes that could allow Clear Channel to expand its reach. Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) has introduced a bill that could halt further deregulation in the radio industry and limit each company's audience share and percent of advertising dollars. These measures could limit Clear Channel's meteoric growth and hinder its future profitability. Jane Kirtley, a professor of media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota, said the company's support of the Bush administration's policy toward Iraq makes it "hard to escape the concern that this may in part be motivated by issues that Clear Channel has before the FCC [chaired by Colin Powell's son] and Congress." ...
Rick Morris, an associate professor of communications at Northwestern University, said these actions by Clear Channel stations are a logical extension of changes in the radio industry over the last 20 years, including the blurring of lines between journalism and entertainment. ... In 1987 the FCC repealed the Fairness Doctrine, which required broadcasters to cover controversial issues in their community and to do so by offering balancing views. With that obligation gone, Morris said, "radio can behave more like newspapers, with opinion pages and editorials."<<<
Top White House anti-terror boss resigns after only six months, on the day war on Iraq begins. Coincidence? The intelligence community doesn't think so. The timing, the intelligence community's consensus that the war on Iraq hurts the 'war' on terrorism, and his bipartisan background suggest they're right.
>>>The top National Security Council official in the war on terror resigned this week for what a NSC spokesman said were personal reasons, but intelligence sources say the move reflects concern that the looming war with Iraq is hurting the fight against terrorism. ... But the same sources, and other current and former intelligence officials, described a broad consensus in the anti-terrorism and intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq would divert critical resources from the war on terror. ... "Hardly a surprise," said one former intelligence official. "We have sacrificed a war on terror for a war with Iraq. I don't blame Randy at all. This just reflects the widespread thought that the war on terror is being set aside for the war with Iraq at the expense of our military and intel resources and the relationships with our allies." ... "This is a very intriguing decision (by Beers)," said author and intelligence expert James Bamford. "There is a predominant belief in the intelligence community that an invasion of Iraq will cause more terrorism than it will prevent. There is also a tremendous amount of embarrassment by intelligence professionals that there have been so many lies out of the administration -- by the president, (Vice President Dick) Cheney and (Secretary of State Colin) Powell -- over Iraq." Bamford cited a recent address by President Bush that cited documents, which allegedly proved Iraq was continuing to pursue a nuclear program, that were later shown to be forgeries. "It is absurd that the president of the United States mentioned in a speech before the world information from phony documents and no one got fired," Bamford said. "That alone has offended intelligence professionals throughout the services." ... Others point out that the CIA warned Congress last year that an invasion might lead to a rise in terrorism. This, they say, is evidence there's more than just ambivalence about the war among the spy community. "If it was your job to prevent terror attacks, would you be happy about an action that many see as unnecessary, that is almost guaranteed to cause more terror in the short-term?" said one official. "I know I'm not (happy)." Beers joined the NSC in August after heading the State Department's International Narcotics and Law Enforcement branch, where he ran the Plan Colombia program to fight narco-traffickers in that country. Beers served both Bush administrations as well as serving in similar capacities with both the Clinton and Reagan administrations. <<<
Tuesday, March 18, 2003 UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook resigns in protest over war on Iraq. In his resignation speech, he said: "What has come to trouble me most over past weeks is the suspicion that if the hanging chads in Florida had gone the other way and Al Gore had been elected, we would not now be about to commit British troops." Sounds like what we wrote on this blog, Feb 3rd: "Al Gore would not have led the US into war against Iraq. Take a minute and think for yourself: if the White House had not led this charge into war, would YOU have been arguing in favor of war, against President Gore? Unlikely. So don't be a sheep, now. Take confidence in your ability to think and draw your own conclusions, independently of the White House and the press corps it feeds. (The fact that many more people voted for Gore than Bush is moot, but not irrelevant.)"
Cook points out that the Iraq case is nothing like Kosovo: "There was no doubt about the multilateral support that we had for the action that we took in Kosovo. It was supported by NATO; it was supported by the European Union; it was supported by every single one of the seven neighbors in the region. France and Germany were our active allies. It is precisely because we have none of that support in this case..."
"It is entirely legitimate to support our troops while seeking an alternative to the conflict that will put those troops at risk. Nor is it fair to accuse those of us who want longer for inspections of not having an alternative strategy."
"Over the past decade [containment] destroyed more weapons than in the Gulf war, dismantled Iraq's nuclear weapons programme and halted Saddam's medium and long-range missiles programmes. Iraq's military strength is now less than half its size than at the time of the last Gulf war. Ironically, it is only because Iraq's military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Some advocates of conflict claim that Saddam's forces are so weak, so demoralized and so badly equipped that the war will be over in a few days. We cannot base our military strategy on the assumption that Saddam is weak and at the same time justify pre-emptive action on the claim that he is a threat."
"Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term—namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories. Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years, and which we helped to create? Why is it necessary to resort to war this week, while Saddam's ambition to complete his weapons programme is blocked by the presence of UN inspectors?"
"I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament, and that our patience is exhausted. Yet it is more than 30 years since resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply."
"...the strong sense of injustice throughout the Muslim world at what it sees as one rule for the allies of the US and another rule for the rest."
"It has been a favorite theme of commentators that this House no longer occupies a central role in British politics. Nothing could better demonstrate that they are wrong than for this House to stop the commitment of troops in a war that has neither international agreement nor domestic support. I intend to join those tomorrow night who will vote against military action now. It is for that reason, and for that reason alone, and with a heavy heart, that I resign from the Government."