Sunday, October 31, 2004

Bush’s make-believe world

Bush’s make-believe world

Bush’s make-believe world

N J NANPORIA

What is the single, most self-defining characteristic which President Bush has acquired on the eve of the November election? It is surely that of a man with whom there can be no genuine communication. He has positioned himself in incommunicado, cocooned in an isolation in which he alone is a companion to his own thoughts, and armoured with an impenetrability which even his closest associated cannot overcome. His State department, his intelligence people, his experts, his allies, the Pentagon, the world media, and on-the-ground realities in Afghanistan have confirmed that the Taliban is not only not dead but is very much alive and active.

Yet, hugging the comforting thought to himself but letting it slip out as a self-evident truth he claims that “as a result of the American military the Taliban is no longer in existence”. What is actuality for the entire world is for him a nullity, and by declaring it as such he has invalidated it as far as he is concerned. The Taliban example is a prototype of many others relating to nearly every important issue concerning Iraq, Afghanistan and the war against terrorism.

A leader’s loony potential

A clue to an explanation lies in his remark “Mistakes? Not me. You can’t lead the world if you say your country made a mistake”. Never admit to anything, least of all to error or failure. Never apologise and never allow unacceptable facts to violate a very private vision of the world.

This is not a denial that mistakes have been made. It is simply that they should not be acknowledged; and this has been elevated to the status of a key quality of world leadership. In any run-of-the-mill citizen such a character flaw would invite regret and commiseration. In a leader of the world’s sole superpower it can only set the alarm bells ringing. No surprise then that in the critical comments that have surfaced in America, leave aside anywhere else, the word “lunacy” has begun to figure with increasing frequency.

The ultimate contrarian

In the face of contrary evidence, contrary opinion and contrary reality the position Bush has taken is not easy to maintain. So he has fallen back on the technique of the flat and uncompromising statement, with all the Presidential authority he can give it. Next he has invoked the help of macho rhetoric, a mix of bravado and phoniness that would be embarrassing in anyone else. And finally he has been pushed to claiming that the goals he has set for himself are those which God has coincidentally instructed him to try and achieve. It is impossible to believe that the coterie that surrounds him hasn’t had uneasy reservations about a leader progressively exposed as a dangerous maverick, seemingly incapable of at least an intelligent advocacy of a neoconservative ideology.

Powell has been unable to conceal his equivocations. Condoleeza Rice has betrayed, off and on, symptoms of an enforced loyalty. Even the Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, despite his own contribution to the mess, has disclosed belatedly and no doubt expediently that “he was never convinced by the evidence that Saddam Hussein had deep ties with al Qaeda”. Confirmed ideologues like Wolfowitz and Karl Rove, being what they are, tied to their beliefs and, as their bizarre leader would say, are committed to “stay the course.” Vice-President Cheney hasn’t even the dignity of any commitment other than to himself, and in evasions of the points made against him he has equalled his leader in guile and disinformation.

Given all this, when compelled to abandon his cocoon and engage in debate, Bush could only grimace, frown and scowl. The language of refutation, the mobilisation of detail and rational discourse, and the making of a case on the basis of what is happening out there were beyond him. Flustered by the gathering pressure on him he has admitted to a “miscalculation”.

Asked whether he could win the war on terror, his impromptu answer was “I don’t think we can win it”. Asked whether he would accept responsibility for Iraq as Kennedy did for the Bay of Pigs disaster, he said, “I’m taking the rap of course.” He could not deny that there was any “rap” to take. We have here, then, the picture of a man, confused, bewildered, incoherent, on his own volition isolated and out of touch, inspired only by his God-given messages. If this is farcical it is also a global tragedy.

Vietnam holds the answer

For anyone who has watched TV, particularly the debate with Kerry, read the papers with a modicum of intelligence, listened to the views of those qualified to know, and analysed things at a very elemental level the truth can hardly be avoided. It is there staring in one’s face. The gap between Kerry and Bush is stark. The voters, it has been said, are impatient with and cannot understand “nuances”. But there is no nuance here. What Bush is is plain for all to see.

Yet — and here is another aspect of the tragedy — the polls tell us that there is a fifty-fifty division of support for both the Presidential candidates. Arguably and theoretically the best educated and best informed electorate in the world is unable or unwilling to renounce a President so blatantly unworthy of the American people. What does this say about the ridiculous platitude that the voters know best? Miraculously November 2 might prove otherwise but doubts persist as also the conspiracy of silence on the one question that now matters. This is how the Americans can get out of Iraq for which America is desperately groping for an answer. One day, with or without Kerry, they will realise that the only way to get out is to get out as was done in Vietnam.

Naipaul’s area of ignorance

Of his own choice V S Naipaul has had more than normal exposure to the Indian atmosphere in which it is not enough to make a point. It has to be underlined and underlined again to excess before it registers however dimly.

This, perhaps, explains Naipaul’s comment that Saudi Arabia and Iran which “foment religious war must be destroyed”. Destroyed? Eliminated? Wiped out?

That is really going over the top whereas a novelist is expected to say what he means precisely neither more nor less.

Certainly there is a case to be made out against the countries he names. But despite the neoconservatives in — you know where — it isn’t quite yet the accepted thing to demand the wiping out of two ongoing independent nations, however much one might disapprove of them.

Perhaps it isn’t too off-mark to say that novelists in general are not quite convincing in the role of political commentators and analysts.

True, John Le Carre has said the right things on American unilateralism and Gunter Grass on America cannot be faulted.

Yet their comments do no more than reinforce conventional liberal opinion.
That is a useful contribution but, as in Naipaul’s case, it can be overdone.

The arithmetic of incivility

One of the casualties of 9/11 and of Bush on the rampage is the shared sense of civility that kept the wheels moving in the political and diplomatic world.
For the US President anyone who doesn’t fall in line is by definition a thug. An unrepentant Saddam Hussein called Kuwaiti citizens “dogs”.

Someone in the Canadian Parliament declared “damn Americans. I hate those bastards”.

Many hard and colourful things have been said about Blair and Bush to the point where civility in public affairs is an unexpected thing.
The art of being rude in language which in itself is not offensive has declined sharply.

Here in India incivility has the dull colour of routine, lacking inventive skill. When Yashwant Sinha called the Prime Minister a “puppet” the attempted incivility deservedly fall flat.

Amen for a prognosis

The United States is going to leave Iraq with its tail between its legs. It is a war we cannot win: Scott Ritter. Amen.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

MSNBC - Amb. Wendy Sherman on Yasir Arafat

MSNBC - Malign Neglect: "Malign Neglect
Both Bush and Kerry blame Arafat for the mess in the Mideast. If the Palestinian leader is suddenly out of the picture, both candidates will have to come up with real policies—not just transparent appeals to Jewish voters. WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Christopher Dickey
Newsweek
Updated: 1:26 p.m. ET Oct. 28, 2004Oct. 28 - If “the old man” dies, and it’s looking like he might, both George W. Bush and John Kerry have some explaining to do. Like, what’s their policy toward Israel and the Palestinians? Do they really even have one?

To date, 75-year-old Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat—known to friends as Abu Ammar (“the old man”), known to enemies as a liar, murderer and thief—has provided both our president and his challenger with a convenient cop-out. If they mentioned the peace process at all, it was to bash Arafat. “You know,” said Bush in the second TV debate, “I've made some decisions on Israel. That's unpopular. I wouldn't deal with Arafat because I felt like he had let the former president down, and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian state.”

Otherwise, what’s passed for policy toward Israel in stump speeches by the candidates and their boosters has been nothing but a transparent appeal to Jewish voters. The candidates assume that Jews want to be told that the United States will do anything and everything to protect and support Israel, no matter who leads it or how. Rarely in the history of international relations have the politicians of one country expressed such unconditional love for another. Former president Bill Clinton, campaigning for Kerry in Florida, went so far as to say the Democratic candidate is a “loyal friend of Israel.” Loyal?

President Bush and his minions like to suggest that the Iraq war was launched, not least, for Israel’s benefit. “I personally think one of the reasons we don't have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we had in the past is because Saddam is no longer in business,” says Vice President Dick Cheney. “A free Iraq will secure Israel,” says the president.

This line of argument is not only less than true, it’s more than dangerous. If suicide attacks are down, it’s not because Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is no longer around to offer a $25,000 recompense to bombers’ families, whose homes are usually bulldozed by the Israelis. It’s because the infamous wall built by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on mostly confiscated Palestinian lands has proved an effective short-term barrier against most terrorist attacks. The theoretical strategic threat Saddam would have presented if he ever got back on his feet was a legitimate concern, but not a likely one. As we all know now, and some of us knew then, before the invasion ever began, he was thoroughly contained, disarmed and defanged. According to the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, "Iraq has now become a convenient arena for Jihad, which has helped Al Qaeda to recover from the setback it suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan. With the growing phenomenon of suicide bombing, the U.S. presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have been otherwise deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat." So none of us is safer.

By suggesting, as the Bush campaign often does, that the Iraq war is good for the Jews, it gratuitously implicates Israelis and the U.S. voters it wants in an unpopular war costing hundreds of billions of dollars as well as rivers of American and Iraqi blood. Stranger still, some Bush campaign advisers think American Jews should be grateful. One recently confided to the Israeli daily Haaretz that to date he’s been “disappointed” when he looks at the polls. Ronald Reagan got almost 40 per cent of the Jewish vote. Bush is not expected to get more than 30 (although that’s up 10 points on the 2000 result).

It seems a long time ago now, but there were some people in the Bush administration who actually argued before the insurgency began that the road to peace in the Middle East—which is the only way to bring real, long-lasting security to Israelis and Palestinians—led not through Jerusalem or Ramallah, but through Baghdad.

This was always an implausible academic conceit. Now it seems delusional. But it was given credibility by the seeming absence of other alternatives. And for that, the blame always went to Arafat. His maddening, mercurial rule had exhausted every option, it was said. And anyone looking for fresh options would soon be exhausted, too. As Kerry foreign-policy adviser Wendy Sherman recently told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “the burden of the current mess in the Middle East, the collapse of the last serious peacemaking effort under President Clinton, the wave of terror that has followed, and the failure to end terrorist violence today rest primarily with the Palestinian leadership and Yasir Arafat, in particular.”

What happens if suddenly he’s out of the picture? Where does the peace process stand today? The usual, candid answer off the record from U.S. officials directly concerned is “what peace process?” But that’s too simple. Both Bush and Kerry advocate the creation of a Palestinian state that would be viable and “contiguous”—that is, something more than a collection of little Bantustans like the pseudo-sovereign states set up by the old apartheid regime in South Africa.

Yet Sharon’s current plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, which both candidates also support, is very much the beginning of a Bantustan design. There’s no direct consultation or coordination with Arafat or his security forces. The Palestinians will get what the Sharon government is willing to give them, no more, no less—and, in the end, not much.

The proposal to take 8,000 settlers and the troops who protect them out of the midst of 1.3 million Palestinians does little more than lay the groundwork for an enormous prison. Israel will control the fences, and little children—who are the majority of Gaza’s population—will be left to grow up with no sense of freedom or a future. Any withdrawal from the occupied West Bank, meanwhile, is nothing more than a token gesture. This is not a blueprint for peace, really, or even a roadmap pointing the way there. It is simply and explicitly a way to divest Israel of Arabs in the demographic struggle to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority inside its current borders and, eventually, the West Bank.

Put to a vote in the Knesset this week, Sharon’s plan won an overwhelming majority. But for the radical settlers who believe God gave them every inch of Gaza and the West Bank, it’s still too much. Which is why Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, at a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, warned that more assassinations could be in the works. Haaretz quoted Mofaz saying, “We do not know if there is another loaded revolver waiting to strike Israeli democracy again.

It’s an ugly picture. And I’m among those who believe only the United States has the power to begin to change it at this late date. The Bush administration has simply dropped the ball. Searching for a fantasy solution in Baghdad, it turned its back on the realities in Jerusalem.

“Some might say that the parties need to grow up and that some benign neglect is in order,” says Kerry adviser Sherman. “They would have you believe that American engagement is a euphemism for pressuring Israel. But as events on the ground demonstrate, there is no such thing as benign neglect. And, indeed, the lack of involvement is what imperils Israel, not American engagement—as the current state of affairs with respect to Gaza disengagement demonstrates.”

If “the old man” goes, then it truly is time for the United States to fight again, with all its diplomatic and economic power, for a just and lasting peace that ends the key conflict in the Middle East. In fact, it’s long past time.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc."

MSNBC - Amb. Wendy Sherman on Yasir Arafat

MSNBC - Malign Neglect: "Malign Neglect
Both Bush and Kerry blame Arafat for the mess in the Mideast. If the Palestinian leader is suddenly out of the picture, both candidates will have to come up with real policies—not just transparent appeals to Jewish voters. WEB-EXCLUSIVE COMMENTARY
By Christopher Dickey
Newsweek
Updated: 1:26 p.m. ET Oct. 28, 2004Oct. 28 - If “the old man” dies, and it’s looking like he might, both George W. Bush and John Kerry have some explaining to do. Like, what’s their policy toward Israel and the Palestinians? Do they really even have one?

To date, 75-year-old Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat—known to friends as Abu Ammar (“the old man”), known to enemies as a liar, murderer and thief—has provided both our president and his challenger with a convenient cop-out. If they mentioned the peace process at all, it was to bash Arafat. “You know,” said Bush in the second TV debate, “I've made some decisions on Israel. That's unpopular. I wouldn't deal with Arafat because I felt like he had let the former president down, and I don't think he's the kind of person that can lead toward a Palestinian state.”

Otherwise, what’s passed for policy toward Israel in stump speeches by the candidates and their boosters has been nothing but a transparent appeal to Jewish voters. The candidates assume that Jews want to be told that the United States will do anything and everything to protect and support Israel, no matter who leads it or how. Rarely in the history of international relations have the politicians of one country expressed such unconditional love for another. Former president Bill Clinton, campaigning for Kerry in Florida, went so far as to say the Democratic candidate is a “loyal friend of Israel.” Loyal?

President Bush and his minions like to suggest that the Iraq war was launched, not least, for Israel’s benefit. “I personally think one of the reasons we don't have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we had in the past is because Saddam is no longer in business,” says Vice President Dick Cheney. “A free Iraq will secure Israel,” says the president.

This line of argument is not only less than true, it’s more than dangerous. If suicide attacks are down, it’s not because Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is no longer around to offer a $25,000 recompense to bombers’ families, whose homes are usually bulldozed by the Israelis. It’s because the infamous wall built by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on mostly confiscated Palestinian lands has proved an effective short-term barrier against most terrorist attacks. The theoretical strategic threat Saddam would have presented if he ever got back on his feet was a legitimate concern, but not a likely one. As we all know now, and some of us knew then, before the invasion ever began, he was thoroughly contained, disarmed and defanged. According to the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies in Tel Aviv, "Iraq has now become a convenient arena for Jihad, which has helped Al Qaeda to recover from the setback it suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan. With the growing phenomenon of suicide bombing, the U.S. presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have been otherwise deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat." So none of us is safer.

By suggesting, as the Bush campaign often does, that the Iraq war is good for the Jews, it gratuitously implicates Israelis and the U.S. voters it wants in an unpopular war costing hundreds of billions of dollars as well as rivers of American and Iraqi blood. Stranger still, some Bush campaign advisers think American Jews should be grateful. One recently confided to the Israeli daily Haaretz that to date he’s been “disappointed” when he looks at the polls. Ronald Reagan got almost 40 per cent of the Jewish vote. Bush is not expected to get more than 30 (although that’s up 10 points on the 2000 result).

It seems a long time ago now, but there were some people in the Bush administration who actually argued before the insurgency began that the road to peace in the Middle East—which is the only way to bring real, long-lasting security to Israelis and Palestinians—led not through Jerusalem or Ramallah, but through Baghdad.

This was always an implausible academic conceit. Now it seems delusional. But it was given credibility by the seeming absence of other alternatives. And for that, the blame always went to Arafat. His maddening, mercurial rule had exhausted every option, it was said. And anyone looking for fresh options would soon be exhausted, too. As Kerry foreign-policy adviser Wendy Sherman recently told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, “the burden of the current mess in the Middle East, the collapse of the last serious peacemaking effort under President Clinton, the wave of terror that has followed, and the failure to end terrorist violence today rest primarily with the Palestinian leadership and Yasir Arafat, in particular.”

What happens if suddenly he’s out of the picture? Where does the peace process stand today? The usual, candid answer off the record from U.S. officials directly concerned is “what peace process?” But that’s too simple. Both Bush and Kerry advocate the creation of a Palestinian state that would be viable and “contiguous”—that is, something more than a collection of little Bantustans like the pseudo-sovereign states set up by the old apartheid regime in South Africa.

Yet Sharon’s current plan to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza, which both candidates also support, is very much the beginning of a Bantustan design. There’s no direct consultation or coordination with Arafat or his security forces. The Palestinians will get what the Sharon government is willing to give them, no more, no less—and, in the end, not much.

The proposal to take 8,000 settlers and the troops who protect them out of the midst of 1.3 million Palestinians does little more than lay the groundwork for an enormous prison. Israel will control the fences, and little children—who are the majority of Gaza’s population—will be left to grow up with no sense of freedom or a future. Any withdrawal from the occupied West Bank, meanwhile, is nothing more than a token gesture. This is not a blueprint for peace, really, or even a roadmap pointing the way there. It is simply and explicitly a way to divest Israel of Arabs in the demographic struggle to preserve Israel’s Jewish majority inside its current borders and, eventually, the West Bank.

Put to a vote in the Knesset this week, Sharon’s plan won an overwhelming majority. But for the radical settlers who believe God gave them every inch of Gaza and the West Bank, it’s still too much. Which is why Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, at a ceremony marking the ninth anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s murder, warned that more assassinations could be in the works. Haaretz quoted Mofaz saying, “We do not know if there is another loaded revolver waiting to strike Israeli democracy again.

It’s an ugly picture. And I’m among those who believe only the United States has the power to begin to change it at this late date. The Bush administration has simply dropped the ball. Searching for a fantasy solution in Baghdad, it turned its back on the realities in Jerusalem.

“Some might say that the parties need to grow up and that some benign neglect is in order,” says Kerry adviser Sherman. “They would have you believe that American engagement is a euphemism for pressuring Israel. But as events on the ground demonstrate, there is no such thing as benign neglect. And, indeed, the lack of involvement is what imperils Israel, not American engagement—as the current state of affairs with respect to Gaza disengagement demonstrates.”

If “the old man” goes, then it truly is time for the United States to fight again, with all its diplomatic and economic power, for a just and lasting peace that ends the key conflict in the Middle East. In fact, it’s long past time.

© 2004 Newsweek, Inc."

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Yahoo! News - U.S. Envoy Smoothes Way for Karzai Win in Afghan Poll

Yahoo! News - U.S. Envoy Smoothes Way for Karzai Win in Afghan Poll: "U.S. Envoy Smoothes Way for Karzai Win in Afghan Poll

By Simon Cameron-Moore
KABUL (Reuters) - The flashing smile, the patrician wave of the hand for the cameras as he stepped into his bullet-proof car belonged to a man who had just won Afghanistan (news - web sites)'s presidential election.
U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, nicknamed "the Viceroy" and familiarly known as Zal, had just helped to smoothe the path to almost certain victory for Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai after meeting his chief rival.

The historic election on Saturday was nearly derailed when Karzai's 15 opponents threatened to boycott over suspicion of irregularities, but soon most of his main challengers had fallen into line and promised to respect the result -- thanks to a little word in their ear from the U.S. envoy.

"They came to him asking for advice on ways to save face," said one Western official, describing the urgent consultations Khalilzad held with Yunus Qanuni, the main candidate from the ethnic Tajik minority. That was on Monday evening.

Qanuni later withdrew his boycott, citing national interests.

A day earlier, a visit from Khalilzad was followed by a decision by another key opponent -- Mohammad Mohaqiq from the Shi'ite Muslim Hazara minority -- to take back his threat to refuse to recognize the election.

On Tuesday, presidential contender General Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek commander from the north, was to meet the Afghan-born Khalilzad who is the face of President Bush (news - web sites) in Kabul.

Most expect Karzai to win Saturday's historic vote, although three weeks of counting only begin on Wednesday.

It's no secret that Washington wants to see Karzai endorsed as president.

Khalilzad was under pressure to move quickly because Bush, on his own campaign trail, was hailing last weekend's election as his foreign policy triumph and could not risk allegations of fraud jeopardizing the success story.

Khalilzad, who has a doctorate from the University of Chicago and is a former professor at Columbia and long-time Republican, was appointed special envoy to Afghanistan after U.S. forces toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.

Many Afghans say Khalilzad has been engaged in political horse-trading on Karzai's behalf, possibly carrying offers of ministerial posts or provincial governorships.

"He's put pressure on them and they won't change their position free of charge," said one candidate, who believed the deals could backfire on Karzai.

OLD FRIENDS
Khalilzad and Karzai go back a long time -- they studied together at the American University of Beirut in the 1970s.

It was Khalilzad, as a foreign policy adviser to the National Security Council, who lobbied Washington to pick Karzai as head of a transitional government after the Taliban were overthrown. Khalilzad says he has always been ready to act as a go-between, carrying messages between rival Afghan politicians, but denies direct interference in Afghanistan's domestic affairs.

Afghans fear U.S. impatience for a Karzai win may have resulted in a series of expedient deals and that could result in warlords and drug runners retaining a say in government.

Qanuni, Dostum and Mohaqiq are commanders of ethnic militias that fought the Soviet occupation and the hardline Taliban. Those same factions now fear they are being squeezed out of Afghanistan's political future as U.S. policy seeks to dissociate itself from warlords.

"It is important that the United States is not seen as pushing for deals that would be perceived by Afghans as maintaining the status quo, but rather for producing positive political change," said Andrew Wilder, director of the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit.

"The legitimacy of the election result rests on who will be in the next cabinet," he said. "Afghans desperately want political change and whoever is elected should bring in new faces, more professional people into government."

Dumping leaders who rely on ethnic loyalties and armed militias is difficult, given the composition of the nation and a far from complete disarmament process. Moreover, the vote will demonstrate they represent constituencies too large to ignore.

Khalilzad studiously avoided endorsing Karzai's candidacy in the run-up to the election.

But few Afghans doubt a Karzai win is what Bush wants to hold up as a triumph of democracy before the Nov. 2 U.S. election.

"Everybody knows who is calling the shots," said Hamidullah Tarzi, a former finance minister from one of the country's best-known political families."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Yahoo! News - Bremer: U.S. Paid Price for Lack of Troops

Yahoo! News - Bremer: U.S. Paid Price for Lack of Troops: "

Bremer: U.S. Paid Price for Lack of Troops

Tue Oct 5, 7:43 AM ET U.S. National - AP

WASHINGTON - The United States did not have enough troops in Iraq (news - web sites) after ousting Saddam Hussein (news - web sites) and "paid a big price" for it, says the former head of the U.S. occupation there.

L. Paul Bremer said Monday that he arrived in Iraq on May 6, 2003 to find "horrid" looting and a very unstable situation.

"We paid a big price for not stopping it because it established an atmosphere of lawlessness," Bremer said during an address to an insurance group in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.

The group released a summary of his remarks in Washington.

"We never had enough troops on the ground," Bremer said, while insisting that he was "more convinced than ever that regime change was the right thing to do."

Despite the daily reports of violence, "I am optimistic about the future in Iraq," he added.

In a statement Monday night to The Washington Post, Bremer said fully supported the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq.

"I believe that we currently have sufficient troop levels in Iraq," he said in the e-mailed statement, according to Tuesday's edition of the Post. He said references to troops levels related to the situation when he first arrived in Baghdad "when I believed we needed either more coalition troops or Iraqi security forces to address the looting."

Bremer addressed the Insurance Leadership Forum, at The Greenbrier resort in West Virginia. Portions of the speech were made available Monday night through a press release from the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

Bremer returned to the United States after Iraqi leaders retook political control in June.

His comments are similar in tone to criticism in March 2003 from then-Army chief of staff Gen. Eric Shinseki that the United States needed several hundred thousand troops to keep the peace in postwar Iraq. Shinseki's comments were rebuked by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other Pentagon (news - web sites) superiors.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (news - web sites) has fired similar criticism at the White House on the campaign trail.

Since no U.N. weapons inspection team had been allowed in the country for almost four years, there was a "real possibility" that Saddam would provide weapons of mass destruction to new terrorist groups, Bremer told the insurance group.

He also disputed criticism that the Bush administration had no plans for postwar Iraq.

"There was planning, but planning for a situation that didn't arise," he said, including a large-scale humanitarian or refugee crisis. "Could it have been done better? Frankly, I didn't spend a lot of time looking back.""

Friday, October 01, 2004

Security Clearance Scandal Engulfs Bush Administration

Security Clearance Scandal Engulfs Bush Administration: "Security Clearance Scandal Engulfs Bush Administration

Despite Clear and compelling evidence the system allows questionable people to hold security clearances. While it has been lax for years under President Bush all caution was thrown to the wind. Espionage for a 'friendly' power would not disqualify a person from access to our nation's secrets."

Khilafah.com - Iraqi Judge Drops Case Against Chalabi

Khilafah.com - Iraqi Judge Drops Case Against Chalabi: "Iraqi Judge Drops Case Against Chalabi

uploaded 29 Sep 2004


BAGHDAD, Iraq, Sept. 27 — A senior Iraqi judge said today that he had closed a case brought against Ahmad Chalabi, the former exile once backed by the Pentagon, who had been suspected of involvement in a counterfeiting operation.

The judge, Zuhair al-Maliky, said in a telephone interview that he took the action about a week-and-a-half ago because he had decided "the evidence was not enough to bring the case to trial." If more evidence emerges, he said, the case will be reopened.

The decision also followed conversations between Mr. Chalabi's lawyers and representatives of the Central Bank of Iraq, Judge Maliky said.

The move appears to signify a minor victory by Mr. Chalabi over the interim government led by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, a longtime rival of Mr. Chalabi's. The government said in August that it was charging Mr. Chalabi with counterfeiting Iraqi currency. That came at a time when Mr. Chalabi was on vacation at a summer home in Iran, and it appeared to many that the levying of the charge was a move by Mr. Allawi to dissuade Mr. Chalabi from re-entering the country.

But Mr. Chalabi did return to Iraq and proceeded to lambaste the government, holding meetings with reporters in which he proclaimed his innocence and vowed to return to political life."

Khilafah.com - The Philosophy of Deception

Khilafah.com - The Philosophy of Deception: "The Philosophy of Deception

uploaded 22 May 2003


Leo Strauss' Philosophy of Deception

What would you do if you wanted to topple Saddam Hussein, but your intelligence agencies couldn't find the evidence to justify a war?


A follower of Leo Strauss may just hire the "right" kind of men to get the job done – people with the intellect, acuity, and, if necessary, the political commitment, polemical skills, and, above all, the imagination to find the evidence that career intelligence officers could not detect.


The "right" man for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, suggests Seymour Hersh in his recent New Yorker article entitled 'Selective Intelligence,' was Abram Shulsky, director of the Office of Special Plans (OSP) – an agency created specifically to find the evidence of WMDs and/or links with Al Qaeda, piece it together, and clinch the case for the invasion of Iraq.


Like Wolfowitz, Shulsky is a student of an obscure German Jewish political philosopher named Leo Strauss who arrived in the United States in 1938. Strauss taught at several major universities, including Wolfowitz and Shulsky's alma mater, the University of Chicago, before his death in 1973.


Strauss is a popular figure among the neoconservatives. Adherents of his ideas include prominent figures both within and outside the administration. They include 'Weekly Standard' editor William Kristol; his father and indeed the godfather of the neoconservative movement, Irving Kristol; the new Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, Stephen Cambone, a number of senior fellows at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) (home to former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle and Lynne Cheney), and Gary Schmitt, the director of the influential Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which is chaired by Kristol the Younger.


Strauss' philosophy is hardly incidental to the strategy and mindset adopted by these men – as is obvious in Shulsky's 1999 essay titled "Leo Strauss and the World of Intelligence (By Which We Do Not Mean Nous)" (in Greek philosophy the term nous denotes the highest form of rationality). As Hersh notes in his article, Shulsky and his co-author Schmitt "criticize America's intelligence community for its failure to appreciate the duplicitous nature of the regimes it deals with, its susceptibility to social-science notions of proof, and its inability to cope with deliberate concealment." They argued that Strauss's idea of hidden meaning, "alerts one to the possibility that political life may be closely linked to deception. Indeed, it suggests that deception is the norm in political life, and the hope, to say nothing of the expectation, of establishing a politics that can dispense with it is the exception."


Rule One: Deception


It's hardly surprising then why Strauss is so popular in an administration obsessed with secrecy, especially when it comes to matters of foreign policy. Not only did Strauss have few qualms about using deception in politics, he saw it as a necessity. While professing deep respect for American democracy, Strauss believed that societies should be hierarchical – divided between an elite who should lead, and the masses who should follow. But unlike fellow elitists like Plato, he was less concerned with the moral character of these leaders. According to Shadia Drury, who teaches politics at the University of Calgary, Strauss believed that "those who are fit to rule are those who realize there is no morality and that there is only one natural right – the right of the superior to rule over the inferior."


This dichotomy requires "perpetual deception" between the rulers and the ruled, according to Drury. Robert Locke, another Strauss analyst says,"The people are told what they need to know and no more." While the elite few are capable of absorbing the absence of any moral truth, Strauss thought, the masses could not cope. If exposed to the absence of absolute truth, they would quickly fall into nihilism or anarchy, according to Drury, author of 'Leo Strauss and the American Right' (St. Martin's 1999).


Second Principle: Power of Religion


According to Drury, Strauss had a "huge contempt" for secular democracy. Nazism, he believed, was a nihilistic reaction to the irreligious and liberal nature of the Weimar Republic. Among other neoconservatives, Irving Kristol has long argued for a much greater role for religion in the public sphere, even suggesting that the Founding Fathers of the American Republic made a major mistake by insisting on the separation of church and state. And why? Because Strauss viewed religion as absolutely essential in order to impose moral law on the masses who otherwise would be out of control.


At the same time, he stressed that religion was for the masses alone; the rulers need not be bound by it. Indeed, it would be absurd if they were, since the truths proclaimed by religion were "a pious fraud." As Ronald Bailey, science correspondent for Reason magazine points out, "Neoconservatives are pro-religion even though they themselves may not be believers."


"Secular society in their view is the worst possible thing,'' Drury says, because it leads to individualism, liberalism, and relativism, precisely those traits that may promote dissent that in turn could dangerously weaken society's ability to cope with external threats. Bailey argues that it is this firm belief in the political utility of religion as an "opiate of the masses" that helps explain why secular Jews like Kristol in 'Commentary' magazine and other neoconservative journals have allied themselves with the Christian Right and even taken on Darwin's theory of evolution.


Third Principle: Aggressive Nationalism


Like Thomas Hobbes, Strauss believed that the inherently aggressive nature of human beings could only be restrained by a powerful nationalistic state. "Because mankind is intrinsically wicked, he has to be governed," he once wrote. "Such governance can only be established, however, when men are united – and they can only be united against other people."


Not surprisingly, Strauss' attitude toward foreign policy was distinctly Machiavellian. "Strauss thinks that a political order can be stable only if it is united by an external threat," Drury wrote in her book. "Following Machiavelli, he maintained that if no external threat exists then one has to be manufactured (emphases added)."


"Perpetual war, not perpetual peace, is what Straussians believe in," says Drury. The idea easily translates into, in her words, an "aggressive, belligerent foreign policy," of the kind that has been advocated by neocon groups like PNAC and AEI scholars – not to mention Wolfowitz and other administration hawks who have called for a world order dominated by U.S. military power. Strauss' neoconservative students see foreign policy as a means to fulfill a "national destiny" – as Irving Kristol defined it already in 1983 – that goes far beyond the narrow confines of a " myopic national security."


As to what a Straussian world order might look like, the analogy was best captured by the philosopher himself in one of his – and student Allen Bloom's – many allusions to Gulliver's Travels. In Drury's words, "When Lilliput was on fire, Gulliver urinated over the city, including the palace. In so doing, he saved all of Lilliput from catastrophe, but the Lilliputians were outraged and appalled by such a show of disrespect."


The image encapsulates the neoconservative vision of the United States' relationship with the rest of the world – as well as the relationship between their relationship as a ruling elite with the masses. "They really have no use for liberalism and democracy, but they're conquering the world in the name of liberalism and democracy," Drury says. "

Clare Wolfowitz

Notable - Outlook Online - Notable: "Melissa Thomas, Clare Wolfowitz, Xavier Forneris, Peter Gajewski, William Strang and Clifford F. Zinnes
The Center for Institutional Reform and the Informal Sector (IRIS) has added several new people to its staff.

Melissa Thomas has joined IRIS as a member of the Democracy, Governance and Regulation Team. A political economist and lawyer, she specializes in corruption, governance, legal/judicial reform and Rule of Law issues. Her dissertation, “Building the Rule of Law: Government Design for Legal Implementation,” explored determinants of legal implementation in the Republic of Mali. She has consulted for the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Government of Madagascar. Thomas has analyzed the political economy of corruption in Uganda and Mali, conducted a study of user perceptions of justice in Madagascar, and represented the World Bank in its dialogue with the governments of Chad and Cameroon on governance reform strategies in the context of the HIPC Initiative for debt relief.

Clare Wolfowitz helps manage the Indonesia projects for the Democracy, Governance and Regulation Team. Before coming to IRIS, she taught courses at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, the Johns Hopkins School of Continuing Education and Georgetown University School of Languages and Linguistics. She is currently writing another book on Indonesian culture and preparing a chapter for a book on the languages of Suriname. Wolfowitz participates in many civic activities during her free time, including serving as vice president of the Board of Trustees of Deep Springs College, as founder and coordinator of the Sarah Thompson Memorial Scholarships at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, as a member of the Human Relations Committee at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, as vice president of the Board of Directors of the IN Series of Performing Arts and as a founder of the Indonesian Foundation for Cranio-Facial Surgery."

Reuters.com: Isaeli Government wants War but the People DoNot!

International News Article | Reuters.com: "Most Israelis Oppose Strike on Iran for Now -Poll
Fri Oct 1, 2004 03:14 AM ET
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Most Israelis want to await the outcome of international pressure on Iran over its nuclear program rather than consider a pre-emptive military strike on their arch-foe's reactors, a poll published on Friday said.
Israeli officials say Iran could produce atomic weapons by 2007, fueling speculation the Jewish state may strike first, as it did in 1981 against Iraq by bombing its Osiraq reactor.

Iran says its nuclear program is being pursued solely to meet civilian energy needs.

A poll in Israel's Maariv newspaper found only 38 percent of Israelis think the country should now consider a military option, while 54 percent favor letting diplomatic scrutiny and threats of sanctions on Iran run their course. The remaining eight percent of 530 Israelis surveyed were either undecided or did not give an opinion. The poll's margin of error was 4.5 percent.

Tehran, which rejects Israel's right to exist, last month defied calls by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspend uranium enrichment -- a process that can be used to make atomic bombs.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz signaled this week that Israel was not ruling out a military option although it supported U.S.-led efforts to step up inspections on Iran's nuclear facilities and threaten it with United Nations sanctions.

"The important thing is to stop the current (Iranian) regime reaching a nuclear option," Mofaz told Yedioth Ahronoth daily. "All options for preventing this will be considered."

Tehran has vowed to retaliate against Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, for any strike on its soil.

Defense experts believe Iran could step up support for Lebanese and Palestinian militants fighting the Jewish state or use other proxy forces to attack U.S. interests in the Gulf."