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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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Elongavi Fugiens et Mansi in Solitudine
Saturday, March 29, 2003  
Al-Jazeera's view of Western media's war coverage. E.g., its senior editor writes, in the Guardian: "one of Iraq's most esteemed Shia authorities, Ayatollah Sistani, dented coalition hopes of a southern uprising [in Basra] by reiterating a fatwa calling on all Muslims to resist the US-led forces. This real, and highly significant, event went unreported in the west." We had not heard this, had you?
Or, see the (graphic, disturbing, violent) pictures being shown throughout the world's billion Muslim viewers, but self-censored in the U.S.
In 1958, the legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow said: "Potentially we have in this country a free enterprise system of radio and television which is superior to any other. But to achieve its promise, it must be both free and enterprising." Perhaps if the US media had not practiced self-censorship, then it would come as no surprise to us that Syria has now allied with Iraq! "Syria has chosen to align itself with the brotherly Iraqi people who are facing an illegal and unjustified invasion and against whom are being committed all sorts of crimes against humanity," a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the Syrian News Agency.
You can translate from the Arabic into English, by copying-and-pasting into .

10:46 AM

Bush reverses Clinton policy on de-classifying documents. A new Bush order "delays by three years the release of declassified government documents dating from 1978 or earlier. It treats all material sent to American officials from foreign governments -- no matter how routine-- as subject to classification. It expands the ability of the Central Intelligence Agency to shield documents from declassification. And for the first time, it gives the vice president [Cheney!] the power to classify information." What is the Bush Administration hiding? What is it afraid of?
10:18 AM

Friday, March 28, 2003  
Gollee, support for Saddam is coming across the borders from Syria and Iran (and perhaps from Russia, who has also aided Iran). And the US is threatening "hot pursuit." Why didn't we think of that? Oh, wait, we did, again and again. We don't claim any special insight; hundreds of thousands of people (or more) thought of this. Why was it not part of the public debate in the US?
4:11 PM

Thursday, March 27, 2003  
A view of AIPAC, from Ha'aretz: The battle for Washington
11:44 PM

Richard Perle resigns as *chair* of the DPB, rather than face investigation, but he remains on as a member. What does he care, he's got his war. Will Democrats have the courage to press for an investigation of his previous conflicts of interest? New ones keep emerging.
7:41 PM

As Bush's critics feared, the US may have forged a coalition between Al Qaeda and Iraq. If reports are true, Al Qaeda members may now be fighting with Iraq, initiating suicide bombing , and fighting a guerilla war desguised as civilians (neither of these was part of Saddam's previous m.o., although the CIA warned the White House months ago). But contrary to the press report, this would be proof of the failure of the Bush-Blair policy, it would not lend credibility to it. When will the White House be take responsibility for its actions? And when will the media hold it accountable for them?
The mainstream media's failure to be critical of Bush earlier has nothing to do with the fact that
major media corporations want a huge political favor from Colin Powell's son, does it? Surely market incentive-structures (maximizing individual utility, defined as wealth) don't apply to CEOs and political appointees, do they? Oh, I guess they do...

7:21 PM

U.S. cruise missiles went many hundreds of miles off-course and landed in Turkey. Similarly, so many US Tomahawk cruise missiles fell short of their targets and landed in Saudi territory that the Saudis complained and the United States has restricted their flyover. And yet when a marketplace in Baghdad was struck, killing over 15 and wounding dozens more, the Republican Party's Faux-TV duly repeated (3/26/03 10pm news) the Pentagon's conjecture that this might be the result of Iraqi anti-aircraft fire. Virtually all international sources, had long before then reported that it was the result of a U.S. missile or bomb gone astray. You decide.
(Will similar propaganda be believed in future "collateral damage", like the approximately 50 civilians killed in Al-Nasr market?)
Meanwhile, the widely-reported "uprising in Basra" turns out not to have happened, even according to the Shi'ite opposition (who would like it to be true). Gosh, funny how these rumors get spread, isn't it?

7:45 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2003  
Religious leaders who opposed the invasion of Iraq: the Roman Catholic Church (emanating from the Pope), and leaders of the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the American Baptist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Syrian Orthodox church of Antioch, and the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of America, among others. (Jewish organizations are divided.)
Supporting the war are Southern Baptists and Pentecostalists.

6:44 PM

Republicans raised four times the money of Democrats, this year. In 2000-01, it was twice as much (hard money). Krugman quotes Jonathan Chait in The New Republic: >>>in the Bush administration "government and business have melded into one big `us.'" On almost every aspect of domestic policy, business interests rule. "Scores of midlevel appointees . . . now oversee industries for which they once worked." We should have realized that this is a two-way street: if politicians are busy doing favors for businesses that support them, why shouldn't we expect businesses to reciprocate by doing favors for those politicians — by, for example, organizing "grass roots" rallies on their behalf? What makes it all possible, of course, is the absence of effective watchdogs. In the Clinton years the merest hint of impropriety quickly blew up into a huge scandal; these days, the scandalmongers are more likely to go after journalists who raise questions.<<<

6:28 PM

Monday, March 24, 2003  
Meanwhile, Al Qaeda is acquiring chemical and biological WMD capabilities. *This* is the real threat. Not the "Socialist infidels" in Iraq. And we just let one of "Al Qaeda's" leading scientists, bacteriologist Abdul Quddoos Khan, slip away. "They have completed plans and obtained the materials required to manufacture two biological toxins -- botulinum and salmonella -- and the chemical poison cyanide. They are also close to a feasible production plan for anthrax..." (So, they didn't have anthrax, before the US invaded Iraq? Not in Sept '01? Who did?)
10:47 PM

Interesting to contrast CNN's coverage with BBC's. Why is the government-funded BBC's voice more skeptical and independent than the private-sector CNN/AOL-Time-Warner? The difference in today's coverage is subtle, but unmistakable:
CNN:>>> U.S. doubts Saddam's taped speech is fresh. Fate of Iraqi leader unclear. U.S. intelligence officials are looking "very skeptically" at a tape of Saddam Hussein broadcast Monday on Iraqi television, with one official saying "he said nothing to prove it could not have been taped earlier." These officials say the fate of the Iraqi leader remains unclear. ... But the first tape broadcast Monday did little to shed light on Saddam's whereabouts or his condition, the subject of much speculation since the initial "decapitation strike" on Baghdad last week. "Reviewing the tape does not lead anybody to a conclusion that this is something fresh," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters at the White House. U.S. officials noted the speech referred to the involvement of some Iraqi units against U.S. forces that have not, in fact, been involved. [Also praises commander who surrendered early.] They point to "jump cuts" in the video suggesting the tape could have been recorded earlier and "doctored" to fit current circumstances. "There are a number of things he could have commented on to prove he's alive and in control and he did not," one U.S. official said. U.S. officials said they have rumors and reports of equal value suggesting the Iraqi leader is injured, uninjured or dead. "We just do not know," said one official. ... A CIA spokesman said he had no comment on reports that telephone conversations intercepted in the area indicate that some neighbors believe they saw Saddam being carried out of the rubble on a stretcher.<<<
Now the BBC: >>>Saddam on television. The two key words from Saddam Hussein's speech were "Umm Qasr". When he used them, referring to the "heroic" resistance there, he appeared to disperse the propaganda put about by US and British officials that he was killed or severely wounded in the initial air attacks on a house where he was believed to be staying. His appearance will rally those Iraqis who support him and make mass defections less likely. But it may add to the pressure on General Tommy Franks to make Iraqi TV a target. The US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Sunday that "it would be highly desirable to have completely, totally ended their ability to communicate." The parading of prisoners on Iraqi TV might hasten some form of action. As recently as Friday, the word from one senior Western intelligence source was that Saddam Hussein might well have been killed. Saddam looked fit in his latest appearance. ... If he was dead or incapacitated, he could hardly have known about Umm Qasr. He even mentioned the name of a unit fighting in Umm Qasr, the 45th Battalion of the 11th Division, thereby adding a touch of detail for credibility. The balance of probabilities is that Saddam is alive and well. ... Even the CIA concluded that it was Saddam Hussein whom we saw on television the day after the attack which allegedly killed him. The latest biographer of the Iraqi leader, veteran Middle East journalist Con Coughlin, said that "the balance of probabilities is that Saddam is alive and well". ... So it can be assumed for practical purposes that Saddam Hussein is still around. ... His appearance also tells us one other vital thing: he is not giving up.
His language was full of fight. His appearance also tells us one other vital thing: he is not giving up. His language was full of fight. It will encourage his supporters and discourage those who might have given up. ... In fact, there is little sign that senior commanders are giving up. Even the coalition report of last week that the commander of the Iraqi 51st Division at Basra had surrendered was later downgraded to a "brigade" commander and the New York Times now says that the man concerned was actually a junior officer "masquerading as a higher-up in an attempt to win better treatment".
(CJ adds: Even the BBC is using the phrase "U.S.-led forces," though Pentagon brass are just tripping over themselves to use the word 'coalition' whenever they can.)
The Christian Science Monitor sums it up: "World and American watching different wars."

7:45 PM

Sunday, March 23, 2003  
Is the US walking into bin Laden's trap? Oxford Prof. Richard Dawkins argues we are, and further argues the US political system needs repair because it allowed us to get into this mess.
10:00 AM

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