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Commentary on the present and future of culture, politics, economics, and social values................... "At any given instant/All solids dissolve, no wheels revolve,/And facts have no endurance." W.H. Auden.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Election Surprise 

Every election brings its surprise. For the election of November 7, we predict that the big surprise will be that the pre-election polls were wildly inaccurate and that the results of the election will be what no one forecast.

Afterwards, there will be time to reflect on the reasons the polls were so wrong.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ambiguity in US-North Korean Negotiations 

Now we learn that the US and North Korea will negotiate with one another. This goal was what prompted Kim to explode his nuclear bomb, so we have to accept that Kim has won: he has forced the US into direct negotiations, even though the Bush Administration has said it would not negotiate.

But there is a more compelling issue here. . .

There is a deep ambiguity in the position of each government. The US cannot negotiate with the North Korean government at the same time that it seeks a regime change there.

North Korea wants economic benefits and rewards, and it is using its nuclear power to get them. But to get them, it will have to negotiate away its nuclear power.

Therefore, neither government can get what it wants in the upcoming negotiations because each has self-conflicting goals.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pakistan's Fragility 

The most dangerous situation in the world today is not North Korea, Iraq, Palestine, or Iran. It is the coming collapse of Pakistan.

The instability of Pakistan is related to its large and growing population (over 170 million), its fractured ethnic composition, its low stage of economic development, the high level of poverty among its people, and the presence of several active fundamentalist Muslim groups. It is also that Pakistan is a major nuclear power. The problem, were Pakistan to implode or explode politically, is the nuclear weapons that would become loose cannons on the deck of the ship of state. In whose hands would they end up?

The Taliban has targeted the government of Pakistan for overthrow. There is widespread support for the Taliban among Pakistan's population. There is also strong support for it in the Pakistan military forces and in the intelligence services. Last week's move by the government against a cadre of airforce officers for planning a coup is an indication of how seriously the stability of Pakistan is disintegrating.

The United States is building its South Asian foreign policy and its war against terrorism on Pakistan's President Musharraf. That is the weakest of foundations. President Musharraf is just barely holding on to power. Pakistan is one assassin's bullet or one military coup away from having a nuclear-armed fundamentalist Muslim state. That change would alter the balance of power in the world, to the detriment of the US. The US could not militarily intervene in Pakistan, even as it watched its power in the world decline.

Hanging on a Cross 

It is now reported that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) routinely wears a cross on a chain around her neck.

That is supposed to attract voters, presumably (except for Jewish, Muslim, Buddist, Hindu, and Wiccan voters). Well, it will keep vampires away.

Hang your hopes on a cross!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Why is Rumsfeld Still in Office?

Any reasonable person has to ask why Donald Rumsfeld has not been fired from his position as Secretary of Defense. He is the worst Secretary in the history of the Defense Department.

He has immersed the US in a quagmire in Iraq, despite the many warnings before the invasion of Iraq that this would happen. Iraq is in chaos, and the US military seems incapable of restoring and maintaining order. That means the US is incapable of fighting the kind of wars that we face in the world of the 21st century. The fault for that pathetic state is clearly Rumsfeld's.

Afghanistan is now veering on the edge of chaos, even as it has become the major producer of opium poppies in the world. We are paying for Rumsfeld's incompetence with the spread of drugs in the US.

The US is less secure than it was before the Iraqi war started. And yet, we were told that the war was necessary for US security.

Only when Rumsfeld is fired and a competent Secretary of Defense is appointed will there be a chance for the US to become secure.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Oil Price Spike

So, Goldman Sachs has predicted that the price of oil will reach $105 a barrel. That report was enough to bring a spike in oil prices yesterday, over $56 a barrel.

Actually, some time ago we forecast that the price of oil will rise to to $100 a barrel in the short term! Good to see Goldman Sachs tagging along after us.

In the longer term look for oil to rise to $200 a barrel. As this rise will come gradually, the world economy will be able to absorb it without major disruption.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

US Imperial Proconsul and Triumphalism

Condoleezza Rice has been touring the world not as US secretary of state but as the proconsul of the new US empire. Hers has been a tour of US triumphalism. When she was not being a clotheshorese, she engaged in scolding, condescending, accusing, denouncing, and saber rattling.

Are we tired of her yet?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Schiavo Case and Culture War

Look how quickly the case of Terri Schiavo has been transformed into a battle in the culture war dividing the US. That transformation is a result of the combined efforts of the media, politicians, clergy, lawyers, judges, and the "talking heads" who preside over television network fare.

In all this racket, the best interests of Terri Schiavo are being ignored.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Price of Oil

The news media reported that yesterday the price of oil rose above $56 a barrel, the highest price in history. There seemed to be little public reaction. This ho-hum response shows why the price will continue to rise. Unless the public gets up in arms over the rising price, makes political protests, and begins self-rationing, the price will continue to climb.

As long as the increases are gradual, they will continue unchallenged. Look for the price of oil to rise to $100 a barrel over the year ahead.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Mine Is Bigger Than Yours!

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made the following comparison in justification of his policies:
The world has seen, in the last 3 1/2 years, the capability of the United
States of America to go into Afghanistan . . . and with 20,000, 15,000
troops working with the Afghans do what 200,000 Soviets couldn't do in a
decade. They've seen the United States and the coalition forces go into
Iraq. . . . That has to have a deterrent effect on people.

In the Rumsfeld lexicon of power, we now compare our military efforts to those of the discredited Soviet Union. So much for the onward march of democracy!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Suck It Up, Condee! You Are Not In Charge Anyway.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice managed to avoid having John Bolton named Deputy Secretary of State. But she ended up with him being named ambassador to the United Nations, a far more powerful post, probably the second most important post in the US foreign policy establishment.

The Bush Administration managed to flip the finger at a number of people in making this appointment: the Democrats, moderate Republicans, the United Nations, Kofi Annan, our European allies, and the Third World. Not a bad score to make with one appointment!

Bolton, neocon extraordinaire, was the candidate of Cheney and Rumsfeld. These two continue their slow-motion coup d'etat, trying to place the entire US government under neocon and Defense Department control.

Rice should understansd that she is not in control of State. She is a figurehead. She has no capacity to resist the Cheney/Rumsfeld juggernaut.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Just When We Thought Things Can't Get Worse...

Reports are that the top candidates the Bush Administration is pushing for the position of president of the World Bank are Carly Fiorina and Paul Wolfowitz.
Who said things can't get worse?

Carly Fiorina was a failure as chief executive of Hewlett-Packard and had to be dumped by the corporation's board after doing years of stunning damage to the company. She brought the company to a low and led the plunge in stock value to the basement. What makes anyone think she could manage a more important job?

Paul Wolfowitz, the manager of the US war and occupation in Iraq, has shown the manifest incompetence of a man guided by ideology rather than information. Does the World Bank need that level of incompetence at the top?

The World Bank is the major influence on the global economy and economic development around the globe. Does the Bush Administration want to make it a tool of US imperial policy? Or does it want to turn it into a fumbling, blundering institution?
Nothing Succeeds Like Failure: the Paradox

The paradox in Washington these days is that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's power is increasing as the war in Iraq fails. Is this an example of the old axiom twisted: nothing succeeds like failure?

Rumsfeld is more powerful now than he was just beore the Iraq war started. Part of this change is explained by the departure of impediments to his power: Powell of State and Tenet of the CIA, most notably.

But there is another factor. Rumsfeld does not see the Iraq war primarily as something to be fought and won. It is rather a means for him to increase his control in the bureaucratic war in Washington. And he has played that game well.

It is true that at the top level of the US government, Rumsfeld and his neo-con cronies are called "the crazies." That does not matter since it is their power and not their policies that matter. And their power is increasing. Only President Bush can stop Rumsfeld, and it is clear that he lacks the will to do so.

Monday, February 28, 2005

News Media and the 2008 Presidential Campaign

Has it occurred to you how the news media are enthusiastically, gleefully, and tirelessly pushing the candidacy of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) for president in the 2008 election?

The media are still trying to select the candidates and the president for the country.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Israel Losing Support

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has gotten unquestioned support from countries and people around the world. That is changing, as sympathy for the Palestinians grows.

The latest sign is from the World Council of Churches. From its headquarters in Geneva, the WCC has recommended to all its members that they seriously consider divesting from companies that aid Israel in its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

This move follows the decision of the Presbyterian Church USA to divest from such corporations.

Many fundamentalist Christians in the US still give Israel a blank check in all its policies. But other Christian churches are beginning to reject that stance.

Israel's blank check is ending.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Negroponte Factor

President Bush has appointed John Negroponte as intelligence czar, a position created by the movement to reform and improve US intelligence gathering, production, and distribution. Senate confirmation seems assured.

Those who praise the appointment will stress Amassador Negroponte's forty years of service in the State Department with assignments worldwide, including his current assignment as ambassador to Iraq. Critics will complain that as ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985, he helped direct a "dirty war" in Nicaragua and El Salvador against alleged communist forces.

The real issue about Negroponte is something quite different from what his supporters and his critics say. That is whether he can stand up to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumseld. Rumsfeld is on a single-minded mission to control US foreign policy and intelligence operations. In this pursuit, he is relentless, ruthless, insulting, arrogant, and fiercely aggressive. No one in the Bush Administration, including the President, has been able to stand up to him and say "no." No one in Congress has been able to do so either.

For Negroponte to be successful in his new assignment, he will have to fight -- and win against -- Rumsfeld. His first major opponent is not in Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus, Pyongyang, or Tehran. He is in the Pentagon. If Negroponte fails in the coming struggle with Rumsfeld, he will fail as intelligence czar.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

General Confession

It was a first in US experience! Remember it!

Jason Giambi, overpaid Yankee baseball star, held a press conference in which he apologized but never said what it was he was apologizing for! Nor were reporters able to pry out of him what he had done wrong that required such an apology.

Look for Jason to have set a new trend. Public figures in the US can now apologize in public but never admit to any wrongdoing, never accept responsibility, nor face any consequences.

Politicians will love this. They can offer periodic public apologies without explanation. Then when are are later caught doing something wrong, they can dismiss the charge and explain that they have already apologized for it.

A generalized apology to cover all past and future acts!

Perfect in our age of talk-show weeping!

Oh, sincerity! How could we live without you?

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The US as a Scold

The US government has withdrawn its ambassadors to Nepal and Syria in a snit. And, in explanation of these actions, has issued some huffy comments to those two governments.

Is the US entering a time when its foreign policy will be essentially scolding other governments, expressing outrage, shaking fingers of accusation, and denouncing? The answer is YES. It is a fulfillment of the Bush Administration's view of the US role in the world. And doesn't Secretary of State Rice play the role well?

But, such scolding and posturing only indicates that the US is impotent to act. It is a sign of weakness.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Hewlett Packard Sinking

So, Carly Fiorina has been pushed out as the boss of Hewlett Packard.

Sorry to say "we told you so." But we did. When she was appointed we said it was a mistake. When she negotiated the purchase of Compaq in 2002, we advised everyone who owned shares in the company to sell them STAT. Buying Compaq was the wrong choice and indicated Carly did not know what she was doing. Old thinking in a time that required creativity and innovation.

Carly thought she could be safe by becoming a media celebrity. The only woman to head a super Fortune 500 company, etc. Well, celebrity status did not save her, though it prolonger her career beyond any reasonable point . Incompetence and failure finally trumped celebirity.

The only problem is that the HP board waited too long to dump her. Her damage to the company was total. While HP might stagger into the right decision -- specializing in manufacturing printers -- it is too late. HP will not survive. The rise in the share price of HP since Carly's firing is a false positive. HP is hurrying on a dowward trajectory. Its only hope for survival is to be bought by someone else (Dell?).

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

A Side of Rice

Have you been watching the whirlwind first-time tour of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice?

Did it occur to you that she and Senator Hillary Clinton are much alike? Both are ideologues, cold, arrogant, self-important, condescending, self-righteous, and preachy.

Those who foresee a presidential election contest between these two in 2008 are warning us against nightmares!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Se habla espanol!

Senator Mel Martinez (D-FL) gave his maiden speech in the US Senate yesterday. Part of his speech was in Spanish, the language of his Cuban-American Miami-area community. It was the first time that any US senator has spoken in the chamber in a language other than English.

But it won't be the last. See this speech as a forecast of the future. Spanish is already the second language of the US, and the use of Spanish will increase in the country in the years ahead. Expect that one day the move will be made to have Spanish as an official language of the US. The senate will then become bilingual, and Spanish will be one of the languages of record.

Look at the parliamant in Canada. Its official business is conducted in French and English. A bicultural US will become bilingual.

Will a multicultural US become multilingual?

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Intelligence Czar

We understand that Robert Gates was offered the job of director of national intelligence and turned it down. This is the new position mandated by the post 9/11 frenzy over intelligence lapses.

Gates, currently president of Texas A&M, was Director of Central Intelligence under President George H. W. Bush.

Has it ever occurred to you that people who serve in appointed positions in the federal government are like baseball team managers? No matter how lousy a job they do, there is always another job waiting for them. Nothing succeeds like failure!
Hillary Swoons

So, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) fainted while trying to give a speech in New York.

Did it seem to you that the explanations claiming that the fainting was nothing serious came too fast and too much, an over-eager flood of diversion?

The problem is that as politics has become a cesspool of lies and spin, one is tempted to believe no quick explanation.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Luck of the GOP

Look at the luck of the Republican Party:

With luck like this, how can the Republicans not win the election of 2008?


Thursday, January 27, 2005

Byrd in Flight

It was an astounding sight! Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), a one-time grand kleagle in the Ku Klux Klan, stood in the US Senate to rail against Dr. Condoleezza Rice, a black woman, who was nominated to be secretary of state.

In the good old days, Byrd would have worn a sheet and urged a lynching. In these modern times, he just fulminates. That is progress!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

EXPELLING THE US FROM IRAQ

Iraqi elections will be held on January 30. The immediate issue facing the new government of Iraq after the elections will be how quickly to expel the US from Iraq.

That the new government will invite the US to leave is certain. Since it will be a majority Shiite government, it will have to win support from the Sunis and from the insurrectionists/terrorists in order to govern. It can only do this by ridding Iraq of a US military presence. The only question is how soon the new Iraqi government will act on this decision.

Our view is that it will act quickly. Current Pentagon plans to remain in Iraq through 2007 will have to be dumped.

Or will the US try to stay in Iraq against the wishes of the Iraqi government?

Monday, January 24, 2005

Kerry Dancing

There is an old Irish song: "Oh, the days of the Kerry dancing...."

The song applies to Senator John Kerry (D-MA), even though he is not Irish (he claims he is, of course, for purposes of running for office in Boston).

Back in Washington, still bitter from his defeat and uncomprehending of the reasons, he is trying to assert his position as shadow president with the aim of assuring himself the Democratic nomination for the 2008 election.

So, he popped up at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on the appointment of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. And he made a fool of himself, showing again why he did not win the election last November.

He said that Dr. Rice was qualified for the position and that President was right to appoint her. But he added that he would vote against her confirmation.

So, there is the Kerry Dance: he is on both sides of the issue. The man who cannot make up his mind, who is ambivalent about everything, indecisively endorsed Dr. Rice even as he voted against her. It was all a reminder of why he lost last Novermber's election.

Could we have tolerated him the White House? Could we tolerate him running again in 2008?

Kerry will keep dancing: that is his character and nature. But he will not dance his way to the presidency.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Ted Kennedy Babbling

Reporters asked Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) about any lessons learned from the victory of Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) in the November elections. Here is Kennedy's answer:

"Why don't we ask Osama bin -- Osama Obama -- Obama what -- since he won by such a big amount."


Is this man babbling? Is his mouth connected to his brain? (The frightening thought is that it MAY be!).

What is a more frightening thought is that Senator Kennedy has announced he plans to run for re-election!

Well, he can join Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), and they can babble on together. The US Senate may become the Tower of Babble!

Where are term limits when we need them?

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Prince Harry in Uniform

London's tabloid, The Sun, splashed the picture of Prince Harry around the country and the world. There he was in Nazi regalia. The third in line to the British throne wearing a swastika armband and Afrika Corps uniform.

So, we recommend he go on the TLC television show, What Not to Wear. That could improve the ratings of the show and the prince.

In any case, his handlers should simply describe the episode as a "costume malfunction." It worked for Janet Jackson. So why not for the prince?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Romney and the Presidency

It is clear that Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney plans to run for president in 2008.

This forecast is not based on his following in his father's footsteps. Nor on his being a red-state governor of a blue state.

No, the sure sign is that he is proposing that the legislature adopt the death penalty. The death penalty establishes the hard-line bona fides that a presidential candidate needs these days to win. Look at Bush, Kerry, Clinton, etc., all proponents of the death penalty.

So, Romney's campaign for capital punishment is the opening gun in his presidential bid.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Chertoff and Civil Liberties

So, President Bush has chosen as Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, a judge of the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

It is not his judgeship that defines him. It is that he ranked third in the Ashcroft Justice Department. In that position he showed a notable impatience with the Bill of Rights as he crafted the hardline reponse to 9/11. He was responsible for most features and provisions of the Patriot Act. Terrorism became the enemy, and all things were permitted to fight it.

With Gonzales at Justice and Chertoff at Homeland Security, the forces that support torture and want the Bill of Rights short-circuited will be in command in the Bush Administration. All in the name of counter-terrorism!

And don't relax. Chertoff, after a year or so in office, will be a perfect candidate for nomination to the US Supreme Court, after Gonzales becomes Chief Justice!
Rather: the Functional Equivalent of Being Fired

The report is out on the CBS News debacle over President Bush's service in the Texas Air National Guard. Some firings are the result, but they are limited. The president of CBS News, Andrew Heyward, and Dan Rather have survived. Many people think saving these two damages the integrity of CBS News even more than the original story did. (See http://www.ratherbiased.com and http://www.rathergate.com).

But read the comments of CBS Corporation chairman Leslie Moonves to get a different view:

In Mr. Moonves's official statement, he said, "Dan Rather has already apologized
for the segment and taken responsibility for his part in the broadcast. He
voluntarily moved to set a date to step down from the 'CBS Evening News' in
March of 2005." He added, "We believe any further action would not be
appropriate."


The statement is clear: Moonves thinks Rather has, in effect been fired too. Rather's agreement to a set date for retirement is the functional equivalent of being fired. He was allowed to save face. But the story that he will continue on as a reporter for 60 Minutes is a transparent fiction. When Rather leaves the CBS Evening News anchor chair in March, he will be gone for good. As gone as Walter Cronkite was when he stepped down.

"Retirement" is often a refined synonym for "fired."

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sudan: Peace without Justice

There is rejoicing around the world over the signing of the Naivasha Protocols in Narobi that are intended to bring to an end twenty years of war in southern Sudan.

But don't rejoice too soon. The agreement, even if it were to work as written, will lead to peace in Sudan, but not justice. There are no provisions for bringing the perpetrators of the genocide to justice:


There is, however, an important flaw in the deal. Under the terms
of the Naivasha agreement, senior members of the Sudanese government responsible for heinous policies and abuses in southern Sudan get off scot-free.
There are no provisions for any kind of justice mechanism in the north-south peace accord-no truth commission or compensation for the many victims.

Genocide is the ugliest crime in the world, one that all nations should unite in prosecuting and expunging. In ignoring the crime of genocide, this agreement shocks the conscience of the world. It also assures that the settlement will not work bbecause, in the long run, the victims of the genocide cannot accept the agreement.


Sudan: Peace without Justice

There is rejoicing around the world over the signing of the Naivasha Protocols in Narobi that are intended to bring to an end twenty years of war in southern Sudan.

But don't rejoice too soon. The agreement, even if it were to work as written, will lead to peace in Sudan, but not justice. There are no provisions for bringing the perpetrators of the genocide to justice:


There is, however, an important flaw in the deal. Under the terms
of the Naivasha agreement, senior members of the Sudanese government responsible for heinous policies and abuses in southern Sudan get off scot-free.
There are no provisions for any kind of justice mechanism in the north-south peace accord-no truth commission or compensation for the many victims.

Genocide is the ugliest crime in the world, one that all nations should unite in prosecuting and expunging. In ignoring the crime of genocide, this agreement shocks the conscience of the world. It also assures that the settlement will not work because, in the long run, the victims of the genocide cannot accept the agreement.


Friday, January 07, 2005

Outsourcing Torture

It's called "rendition." And it is practiced by the US government.

It is, of course, a word worthy of Orwell's lexicon, a word meant to conceal rather than communicate. It is a slick substitute for "outsourcing torture."

Government agencies - including the CIA - are allowed to send detainees to other countires for interrogation. The countries selected have no bothersome rules like the Bill of Rights to restrain their enthusiasm for vigorous interrogation. These contries routinely torture victims in order to extract information or force confessions. These countries do the dirty work that US law would prevent the US from doing at home. They include Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and others.

This issue may now hit the US courts. An Australian citizen, Mamdouh Habib, was picked up by the US in Pakistanand then sent to Egypt by the US for interrogation on the grounds that he was born in Egypt. He alleges that while there he was systematically and brutally tortured by being hung by his arms from hooks, beaten, nearly drowned, and subjected to electric shock. He is now in Guantanamo, the US gulag in Cuba, and is being threatened with return to Egypt for more inerrogation. He is asking the courts to prevent his return to Egypt.

Outsourcing torture is not quite what the proponents of globalization had in mind when they extolled the advantages of outsourcing. But in the name of fighting terrorism, all things are permitted. A nice way to assert that the US does not torture prisoners. Orwell would be so proud!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

NO to Gonzales

The US Senate Judiciary Committe wil soon hold hearings on the appointment of Alberto Gonzales to be Attorney General. The committe should say NO to this appointment.

Gonzales was the White House counsel who penned a memo supporting torture for those accused of terrorism. His justification for that memo reads like a a farce:

He says that after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the government had "fundamental decisions to make concerning how to apply treaties and U.S. law to an enemy that does not wear a uniform, owes no allegiance to a country, is not a party to any treaties, and -- most importantly -- does not fight according to the laws of war."

All his promises now that he will do differently in the future are fraudulent. When the issue came down, he supported torture. That any official of the US government would do so is a disgrace. We know where he stands, and that is in opposition to US values. He stands with the necon subversion of US democracy.

He should be soundly rejected by the Senate!

Friday, December 31, 2004

Tsunami Deaths

Have you noticed how the media feature the death of Western and US tourists in the tsunami disaster while shuffling off the deaths of indigenous peoples with a few estimates of numbers? Britain's Guardian has a commentary on this point:

The tsunami struck resorts where westerners were on holiday. For
the western media, it was clear that their lives have a different order of
importance from those that have died in thousands, but have no known biography,
and, apparently, no intelligible tongue in which to express their feelings. This
is not to diminish the trauma of loss of life, whether of tourist or fisherman.
But when we distinguish between "locals" who have died and westerners, "locals"
all too easily becomes a euphemism for what were once referred to as natives.
Whatever tourism's merits, it risks reinforcing the imperial
sensibility
.


Here the point is that the media perpetuate imperialist stereotypes by inferring that Western lives are more important the those of Third Worlders. It is a form of the old assumption that Weterners are superior.

Though the media have become global, they persist in being Western in outlook.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Political Purge of CIA Continues

Now Porter Goss, Director of Central Intelligence, has dumped the Deputy Director for Intelligence. Don't be fooled into thinking that the purpose of this move is to improve intelligence gathering and distribution. No, it is to fulfill the aim to politicize intelligence!

Every move that Goss has made - and will make - is designed only for the purpose of seeing to it that all intelligence simply conforms to Administration policy. Anything that does not support the Administration's pre-conceived views will be seen as disloyal or as the work of disgruntled Democrats trying to undermine the Administration.

The idea of disinterested intelligence is dead! Intelligence is becoming only a tool for political manipulation.

The neocon coup d'etat continues. The Defense Department continues its mission of taking over the US government.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Iraq Election Fizzle

Another sign has appeared to warn that the proposed January 30 election in Iraq will not be held. The majority Sunni party has declared that it will not participate in the election:

Iraq's largest mainstream Sunni Muslim party pulled out of the election
race yesterday, saying the violence plaguing areas north and west of Baghdad
made a "free and fair vote" on January 30 impossible.

The Sunnis recognize that the election will produce a victory for the majority Shiites, so they do not want an election held at all. While they are doubtless correct in saying that the civil disorver and violence gripping Iraq are sufficient reason to postpone the election, their real motive is that they know the election, when held, will exclude them from power. Their hope is that the US will impose a settlement on Iraq that will assure the Sunnis a share in the government.

It's called "democracy," folks.


Monday, December 27, 2004

Iraq and Group Democracy

Britain's Guardian reports an interesting change in the strategy of the Bush Administration in the upcomning Iraqi elections:

The Bush administration is considering reserving a few high-level posts in
the next Iraqi government for Sunni Muslims, regardless of how well they fare in
next month's elections, for fear that their exclusion could prolong the
country's military and political turmoil.

If accurate, this story indicates a major shift in US policy. Up until now, the Bush Administration has argued that Iraq must have US-style democracy. That is, an individual democracy, one-person-one-vote style, as it is practiced in the US.

Group democracy is quite different. It assures that an election will produce a distributuion of power that rewards all groups for participation in the election. That is not US practice. If you want to see it in operation, look at Lebanon. There the Maranite Christians are assured the presidency, the Sunni Muslims are assured the prime ministery, and the Shiite Muslims are assured the speakership of parliament. This practice is followed to allow all groups to cooperate in the politcial process with the assurence they will have a guaranteed role and a share of power. No group can be exluded in this system.

it is interesting that the Bush Administration may shift its Iraq goal from a US-style democracy to a style that was perfected in the Middle East, in Lebabon. Is that called a learning curve?

Friday, December 24, 2004

RUMSFELD VISITS IRAQ

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq today. The stated purpose of his visit was to look at the military situation and to bring Christmas geetings to the US troops stationed there.

But make no mistake: the REAL purpose of the visit was that Rumsfeld is trying to save his job. He gave a good speech and seemed to connect with the troops he addressed. But the move was a public relations gambit to build up public support at home for the embattled Defense Secretary.

The public will welcome his visit to Iraq. But the visit will not save his job. The problem is not public relations. It is a losing strategy and faulty implementation. Every terrorist bomb that explodes in Iraq is another nail in the coffin of Rumsfeld's career.

We saw this same kind of scenario played out by Les Aspin, the fumbling Defense Secretary under President Clinton. Aspin did not save his job either.

Rumsfeld is only delaying the inevitable end. It is clear he will not change his strategy for that would admit that he made mistakes. His departure - as soon as possible - is what is needed to improve the US position in Iraq.

Friday, December 17, 2004

RUMSFELD'S DECLINE

The career of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is on the downward trajectory. Like a falling star or an aging Hollywood starlet. Look for him to be gone from the Washington scene soon.

The problem is that no amount of smooth talking and pie-sky lingo can conceal the fact that the war in Iraq is going badly. And the failure is Rumsfeld's. He has led the world's greatest military into a humiliating helplessness in Iraq.

Bush will have to understand that he has to dump Rumsfeld in order to make the fulfillment of the agenda for his second term possible. Iraq stands in the way of everything in Bush's domestic agenda, and Rumsfeld stands in the way of victory in Iraq.

Rumsfeld's departure will come soon. He may last until the elections scheduled for late January in Iraq. But not much longer.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

McCAIN ON RUMSFELD

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has given his verdict on Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. It is "no confidence."

This publicly-stated judgment is important because McCain is not just a senator. He is, to many people, currently a parallel president and a likely Republican nominee for president in 2008.

McCain's verdict may be the opening of the movement that will soon dislodge Rumsfeld from his post.

Monday, December 13, 2004

DWINDLING CHANCES FOR IRAQ JANUARY ELECTION

Prsident Bush and the Iraqi interim government insist that everything is nicely on track for Iraq to have elections on January 30. But a story in The Washington Post tells us why this hope is completely unrealistic:

...Six weeks before the historic vote, a U.S. official said, fewer
than 1 percent of eligible Iraqis have responded to a voter-registration drive,
forcing authorities to look for other ways to build up voter lists. But six
weeks before the historic vote, a U.S. official said, fewer than 1 percent of
eligible Iraqis have responded to a voter-registration drive, forcing
authorities to look for other ways to build up voter lists.


If Iraqis are afraid to register to vote, an election is not going to be possible. Registration statistics now say that the election cannot be held in six weeks.

Not holding the election as scheduled will be a major defeat for the US.


Friday, December 10, 2004

NEW RECRUITING SLOGAN FOR THE ARMY

Forget "Be All You Can Be." Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has come up with a new army recruting slogan: "You go to war with the army you have."

That is what he told US troops in Kuwait as they complained about the lack of body armor and vehicle armor for the Iraq war.

Too bad these guys did not know that when they enlisted. Too bad Rumsfeld did not tell President Bush that at the time the decsion was being made to go to war - for then the decision might not have been made.

How much has to happen before Bush fires Rumsfeld?
MR. SNOW AND SELF-RESPECT

President Bush has announced that he wants Secretary of the Treasury John Snow to stay on for the second term. But for ten days Snow was left hanging out on a limb of humiliation as members of the White House publicly dissed him, as it was made clear the President was trying to find someone better for the job, and as the job was actually offered to a Wall Street guy, who refused it.

A bad move by Bush to show his displeasure with Snow and then go ahead to reappoint him. Admitting weakness in Treasury just when Bush wants to undertake major new economic initiatives is simply bad politics.

But for Mr. Snow there is something worse. If he had any intregrity, he would turn the job down. No one should accept that humiliating treatment from anyone!


RED NATIONS AND BLUE NATIONS

The recent elections introduced the red state/blue state dichotomy into US politics. Look now for the development of the red nation/blue nation dichotomy as culture wars become the major issue in international relations, assuring disharmony among nations.

The opening issue in the global culture war will be that of gay marriage. As Toronto's Globe and Mail reports, the Supreme Court of Canada has opened the way to legalizing same-sex marriage in Canada. Prime Minister Paul Martin has decided to push that agenda through parliament, though the move will not be easy:
The Supreme Court of Canada gave its blessing Thursday to the federal
government's proposal to legalize same-sex marriage, prompting Prime Minister
Paul Martin to launch a high-stakes sales job to push the legislation through a
divided Liberal caucus and split Parliament.


If Canada does legalize same-sex marriage, it will join Belgium and the Netherlands as the only three countries in the world that allow it. Is this part of a trend? Will some countries hurry into legalizing it while others hurry into asffirming it as illegal? YES! And this development will open up a culture war between red naions and blue nations, a war that will expand to other issues.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

IT'S ONLY TAXPAYERS' MONEY

Congress has sent a spending bill for $388 billion to President Bush, and he has signed it. That figure covers the cost of all federal agencies except the two big ones, the Pentagon and Homeland Security. So, the actual figure for fiscal year 2005 will be higher! The pigs are oinking!

What ever happened to the promises of smaller government, less federal spending, and a balanced budget? Forget it, stupid! You're paying the bill!

Monday, December 06, 2004

PRESIDENT MUSHARRAF ON IRAQ

Listen to Pakistan's President Musharraf on Iraq. He is a realist who is speaking his mind and telling the US what it needs to hear:

The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has made the world a more
dangerous place, but a swift withdrawal would make matters worse, Pakistan's
president said this weekend."I think it's less safe," Gen. Pervez Musharraf
said on CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." Asked whether he considered
the invasion a mistake, the Pakistani leader said: "With hindsight, yes. We have
landed ourselves in more trouble, yes."


Musharraf is a friend of the US, not a carping critic. His words should carry weight in re-formulating US policy.

The problem is that the US may be in a situation where it cannot withdraw, even from a mistaken invasion. Grab the tiger's tail, and you cannot let go!

New thinking is needed. Maybe Musharraf's words will help prompt it.
VIOLENCE INTENSIFIES IN IRAQ

Britain's Guardian reports on the increasing level of violence in Iraq:

Insurgents in Iraq mounted a third straight day of serious attacks yesterday,
killing 17 people when they opened fire on buses delivering workers to an
ordnance disposal site.
At least 70 Iraqis, many of them members of the
police and security forces, have been killed since Friday in attacks across
central and northern Iraq.
The organised violence underlines the insurgency's continued strength despite last month's US military assault on Falluja and suggests that attacks will intensify in the run- up to next month's general election.


It is clear that the Pentagon has no policy other than to keep on doing what it has been doing, even though that does not work. Since President Bush is not planning to remove Rumsfeld and Company from command, the only thing that will change US policy in Iraq is the escalation of violence to an unacceptable level. The terrorists understand this.

The US public will finally react against this violence and repudiate the Pentagon policy. President Bush should understand that this reaction is coming.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

BUSH AND INTELLIGENCE REFORM BILL

We predicted that a surprise is awaiting President Bush: the oppostion of conservative Republicans to his second-term agenda.

A story in today's New York Times reports on this matter. It describes the opposition that the president is getting from congressional conservative Republicans over the intelligence reform bill. The report actually sees a "near-rebellion" among conservatives on this issue:

President Bush sought to stem a near-rebellion by members of his
own party in Congress yesterday by describing a sweeping intelligence-overhaul
bill they oppose as an effort "to do everything necessary to confront and defeat
the terrorist threat" and calling for its passage during a brief Congressional
session this week.
The president's remarks in his weekly radio address came a
day after a powerful Senate Republican, John W. Warner of Virginia, chairman of
the Armed Services Committee, expressed doubts about the bill....


This is the first sign of conservatives rejecting the president's agenda. Opposition will also come on immigration policy, the budget, the burgeoning deficit, and the neocon policy in Iraq. President Bush will have a difficult four years ahead from his own base.

Friday, December 03, 2004

ALICIA MARKOVA, R.I.P.

In a world disfigured by war, conflict, and betrayal, it is right to pause at the death of Alicia Markova and let ourselves be reminded that grace, beauty, and style are present in our midst.

Alicia Markova was the world's best ballerina in the formal and classic style of ballet. She lived to be 94 years old, giving us many years of herself. When she danced, she brought enthusiasm and grace and freshness to the roles she portrayed.

A word of "thank you" now would echo loudly as a protest to the darkness of our present-day world.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

MORE US TROOPS TO IRAQ

Do you remember Ross Perot in the election of 1992 warning us that we will soon be hearing "a giant sucking sound"? Well, we are hearing it, but it is the sound of the US military being sucked deeper and deeper into Iraq.

In its story, "US Troop Level in Iraq to Grow," The Washington Post reports that

The Pentagon said yesterday that it will boost the number of U.S. troops in
Iraq to about 150,000, the highest level since the U.S. occupation began 19
months ago.

The signs continue to pop up revealing that the Pentagon has no idea how to fight the war in Iraq. Except deciding it needs more forces to keep doing what it has been doing, even thought what it has been doing is notably unsuccessful.

Flooding Iraq with more US troops is not going to solve the problem. It just draws us in deeper where we have no plan to prevail.

Does it sound like Vietnam all over again?

Rest assured that this is not the last call by the Pentagon for more troops to be sent into Iraq. The call for more troops now is clearly a repudiation of Secretary Rumsfeld's doctrine of doing more with less, but no one will say so.







STORY OF PLANNED BUSH ASSASSINATION BOGUS

There were reports from the Colombian Minister of Defense that FARC, the guerrilla group, planned to assassinate President Bush during his three-hour stopover in Cartagena, Colombia.

It is now clear that this report was bogus. It may have been the brainstorm of the government of President Uribe to assure continued US interest in aiding Colombia in its struggle with FARC - and pumping more US dollars into the hands of Colombia's ruling elite.

We also have to wonder whether the US government was involved in this deception as a way of shoring up support for Uribe against skeptics at home who complain about his human rights record and who object to giving Uribe military aid and dollars in massive amounts. If a foreign leader can present himself as fighting terrorism, he becomes the darling of the Bush Administration - and gets lots of US -taxpayer dollars.

For the record, here is the statement from FARC rejecting any notion that the group had plans to assissinate Bush (first in an English translation, then in the Spanish original:

The FARC categorically deny the vengeful affirmations of the
intelligence services of the US who have accused us as responsible in a supposed
plan to assassinate Bush and Uribe during their brief interview in Cartagena.
There could not be anything more false or untrue than this affirmation of
delirious minds infected by arrogance.Fortunately, the world public opinion
knows very well the enormous capacity for lies, deceit, and accusations
profusely handed out by the intelligence services of the US every time they
decide to invade or intervene militarily in other countries. The unjust and
bloody invasion of the people of Iraq is incontrovertible evidence of this
abominable gringo conduct. The Colombian people are victims of the intervention
of the US government in our internal conflict. This government invests in Plan
Colombia and Plan Patriota thousands upon thousands of dollars, they send
hundreds of military assassins, and war planes and helicopters armed with
sophisticated communication systems, in their illusory desire to wipe out the
revolutionary guerrillas, humiliate and intimidate the social organizations
affected by the neoliberal politics that have resulted in hunger, poverty,
misery, and repression from the ruling government. Plan Colombia and Plan
Patriota were prepared during the government of Pastrana and carried out during
the present administration of Uribe.We swear once again that our men, women, and
political and social wings continue in the service and defense of the interests
of the poor of our country, and we will for as much time is needed to obtain
peace with social justice, with true independence and respect for our
sovereignty.

******************************************************

Comunicado de las FARC Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia Ejército del Pueblo,
FARC-EP desmentimos categóricamente las calumniosas afirmaciones de los
servicios de inteligencia de los Estados Unidos de América al endilgarnos
responsabilidades en un supuesto plan para eliminar a los presidentes George
Bush y Álvaro Uribe, durante su pasada entrevista en Cartagena. Nada más falsa y
temeraria que esta afirmación propia de mentes delirantes de soberbia y
prepotencia. Afortunadamente la opinión pública mundial conoce de sobra la
enorme capacidad de mentiras, engaños y calumnias profusamente difundidas por
los servicio de inteligencia de los Estados Unidos cada que deciden invadir o
intervenir militarmente a otros países. La injusta y sangrienta invasión al
pueblo de Irak es prueba incontrovertible de esta abominable conducta del
imperio gringo.El pueblo colombiano es víctima de la intervención del gobierno
de Estados Unidos en su conflicto interno. Este gobierno invierte en los planes
Colombia y Patriota miles de millones de dólares, participan centenares de
asesores militares, aviones y helicópteros de guerra, dotados de sofisticados
sistemas de comunicaciones, en su iluso empeño de liquidar la guerrillera
revolucionaria, humillar e intimidar a las organizaciones sociales y populares
afectadas por las políticas neoliberales de hambre, pobreza, miseria y represión
del sistema gobernante. Los planes Colombia y Patriota fueron preparados durante
el Gobierno de Andrés Pastrana y desarrollados en la presente administración de
Álvaro Uribe Vélez. Ratificamos una vez más que, nuestros hombres, mujeres,
armas y banderas sociales y políticas, indefectiblemente continúan al servicio y
defensa de los intereses de los pobres de nuestra patria, por el tiempo que sea
necesario hasta conquistar la paz con justicia social, con verdadera
independencia y respeto por nuestra soberanía.
Secretariado del Estado Mayor CentralMontañas de
Colombia, noviembre 30 de 2004.

The assassination story was worthy of CBS News!


ABSENT SENATORS

New Jersey's US Senator Jon Corzine plans to run for the governorship of New Jersey in the upcoming election. Being chief executive in Trenton is a better route to the White House than being a Senator. But that is down the road. The first step is to be become Governor Corzine.

He has indicated that he will not resign his senate seat to run for governor. This decision indicates the current game of senators who take time off from their senate duties to run for another office, but in so doing neglect their senatorial jobs and duties.

John Kerry ran for president for two years, rarely even showing up in the senate. Massachusetts in effect had only one senator for this period, as he missed most votes. John Edwars of South Carolina did the same.

Is there no shame? People elected to do one job fail to do that job as they run for another. Those who undertake an arduous and time-consuming campaign for another office should have the decency to resign from their current one so the citizens they are paid to represent can have full-time representation. Not doing so, means they are paid for doing nothing. Cheats!

If senators will not voluntarily resign their seats to run for another office, they should be compelled to do so. A simple rule might be that if one misses fifty percent of votes - or even roll calls - the seat is declared vacant and an election is held to fill it.

Absentee senators are a national disgrace. And a means of cheating citizens.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

BUSH MIS-READS MANDATE

During his current trip to Canada, President Bush ashowed that he does not understand the mandate of the recent presidential election.

During a speech in Ottawa, he spoke in defense of his foreign policy, and made the following claim:

We just had a poll in our country where people decided that the foreign policy of the
Bush administration ought to stay in place for four more years.


This statement shows he has mis-read the results of the election. The public voted for him in winning numbers for reasons of "moral values." That means, he has earned trust and faith.

In foreign policy terms - specifically the war in Iraq - the public did not say that he should keep doing what he has been doing. What the majority of voters said was that they trusted him to do the right thing. Not the same thing, but the right thing.

Unless he understands this difference, he will find that his second term wil become increasingly troubled.

Read the vote as the public saying Bush should develop and implement an exit strategy for Iraq immediately. He has the trust of the country to do that. That is what the vote for "moral values" says.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

REPLACING RATHER

The rumor mills are working, producing many a name as possible replacement for Dan Rather as the anchor on the network evening news. Most of the names are the CBS drones, too familiar, hoping to work their way up the corporate totem poll (YAWN!). Drones just drone.

One name being passed around CBS headquarters is that of Tim Russert, host of "Meet the Press." Interesting possibility, showing that there may be a glimmer of imagination and thinking left in CBS headquarters. Though not enough.

It would be bad for Russett to accept this job if offered. Not because it means shifting networks. After all, who is loyal these days? No, it would be Russert jumping on to a sinking ship, and when the vessel finally drops below the waves, he will be blamed for the debacle.

There is no need for another boring, white, middle-aged male to be reading the news for 21 minutes five nights a week to a dwindling, half-attentive audience eager to get to the prime time lineup. The format has to be changed completely, away from the reading-anchor model. It has to be a blogger-style newscast with fuzzy edges and split ends. Informative and exciting. Not seen as another slice of entertainment. And, above all, not based on the ego of a reading anchor!

Qick! Who has the biggest ego? Rather, Brokaw, or Jennings?

Time for the egos to go, not to be replaced!
PURGING THE CIA

Read the article by David Ignatius: "The Langley Lobotomy." It is the best reporting and analysis of the purge going on at the CIA. Here is the gist of the author's point:

It's crazy for a nation at war to be purging its spies. But that's what has
been happening in the weeks since former representative Porter Goss (R-Fla.) and
a phalanx of conservative congressional aides took over at the CIA. What makes
the putsch genuinely scary is that it seems to be driven by an animus toward the
CIA that could do real damage to the nation's security.

Goss's supporters argue that he's just trying to rebuild an agency that needs a
shakeup. And certainly the CIA could improve its performance: It is too
risk-averse, too prone to groupthink, too mired in mediocrity. But the cure for
these problems is hardly to send in a team of ideologues from Capitol Hill and
drive out the agency's most experienced intelligence officers. This
politicization can only make the agency's underlying problems even worse. And
heaven knows what foreign intelligence services, which are America's crucial
partners in the war on terrorism, make of the spectacle at Langley.

What's driving the Langley Lobotomy is a belief among conservatives
that the CIA is an impediment to Bush administration foreign policy. Civilian
officials at the Pentagon and neoconservatives at Washington think tanks have
been badmouthing the agency relentlessly for the past four years.


We are pleased to see that others now recognize that there is a neocon coup d'etat going on to transform the foreign policy apparatus of the US government into a willing tool of neocon ideology. The neocons want the CIA to produce politicized intelligence that supports the neocon goals. Fire anyone who doubts.That is the mission of Porter Goss.

State is next, under Condoleezza Rice.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

POSTPONING IRAQ'S ELECTIONS

Iraq's elections for the National Assembly are scehduled for January 30. In the face of the country's disorder and violence, there is a question of whether the elections will be postponed.

The point is this: If the elections are postponed, that will be a victory for the terrorists. The terrorists understand that and will do all in their power to create more turmoil and make holding the elections impossible.

In The Washington Post, an article on this subject, "Shiites Reject Delay of Elections," accurtately describes the situation:

Iraq's Shiite Muslim parties and the religious leadership headed by Grand
Ayatollah Ali Sistani on Saturday rejected a demand by other communities for a
delay in nationwide elections scheduled for Jan. 30, in an escalating dispute
that magnifies the country's ethnic and sectarian fault lines.


Parties representing Iraq's Sunni Muslim Arab minority, as well as ethnic Kurds and
other secular groups, had called for a delay of up to six months in the vote for
a National Assembly, which will be charged with appointing a government and
drafting a constitution. The postponement would allow more time to persuade
groups boycotting the election to take part and to bring calm to regions roiled
by a tenacious insurgency.


The Shiites, 60% of the country's population, want the elections held as scheduled. So do the interim government and its backer, the US. On the other side, the Sunnis, Kurds, and other secular parties want a delay so the order necessary for a free election can be restored.

The terrorists' main goal now is to get the elections delayed. They hope to achieve their goal by exploiting the fault lines in Iraq's political geography.

Watch for major terrorist offensives to achieve the end of making Iraq ungovernable.


Saturday, November 27, 2004

BUSH TELEGRAPHING ISRAEL'S PUNCH?

Did President Bush let slip that Israel will bomb Iran's nuclear facilities to stop it from developonmg nuclear weapons? This story in The New York Sun carries that implication: "Bush Hints at Israeli Role in Iranian Atom Bomb." It claims that

At a dinner party two weeks before the election, President Bush agreed that a
second-term flashpoint would likely center around the acquisition of nuclear
weapons by Iran."It is Israeli policy not to let that happen," Mr. Bush
said, adding after a moment's pause. "Don't go telling anyone I gave a green
light."


Israel could be a surrogate for the US in an aerial attack on Iran's nuclear facilities, giving a new meaning to the term "coalition of the willing." Israel once bombed nuclear facitlities in Iraq to stop the atomic bomb program promoted by Saddam Hussein. Performing the same function in Iran would be doing exactly what the Bush Administration wants.
BUSH AND NORTHERN IRELAND

An interesting move in the talks to bring a final peace settlement to Northern Ireland. The talks now focus on admitting Sinn Fein to power sharing in the government of Northern Ireland, a move the DUP, the main Protestant party, opposes on the grounds that Sinn Fein is the political wing of the IRA. The DUP does not want alleged "terrorists" in the govrenment.

At a crtitical juncture in the talks, Rev. Ian Paisley, head of the DUP, received a sudden telephone call from President Bush urging a quick resolution of the issues and the admission of Sinn Fein to the government. Britain's Guardian carries the story in "Bush in Peace Plea to Paisley," where it is revealed that

Mr Bush was anxious that a deal be secured and told Mr Paisley to call him at any time if further help was needed.

President Bush has shown almost no interest in Norther Ireland during his first term. Why now the suddent interest? A few possibilities:

Friday, November 26, 2004

CHINA'S EYE ON CANADA

For some time we have been watching China move in on Latin America to extend its economic reach and assure itself of a supply of needed resources.

Now China is making a move on Canada. Toronto's Globe and Mail reports on that move in "China in Talks to Buy Calgary Oil Giant." China wants to but Husky Energy, a Canadian oil and gas giant, to assure supplies of oil for its ever-expanding economy. The move, if successful, would also make China a major player in the world's oil market.

This move on Husky is part of a broader Chinese agenda:

China has embarked on a global hunt to secure resources for its booming economy.
Chinese state firms are already active in Sudan and Peru, and are scouting
investment opportunities in other countries, including Ecuador, Chile, Australia
and Venezuela.


While the US is focused exclusively on its military adventures in the Middle East and committed to regime change there, the Chinese have continued their policy of global economic reach with the aim of challenging the dominant role of the US in the world.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

UKRAINE AND THE VELVET REVOLUTION

The events surrounding the presidential election in Ukraine are becoming more and more important. At stake is whether Ukraine will be oriented towards Russia or towards Europe.

In an essay titled "Freedom's Front Line," Tomothy Garten Ash, an expert on contemporary European affairs, points out another important feature of the conflict. It is whether Ukraine will experience a "velvet revolution." That form of political change has become a feature of European life in recent years: in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Serbia. It is a challenge to the long tradition of violent revolution identified with the Jacobin-Bolshevik tradition. It is important for the world that the US and other powers pressure Ukraine to settle the confronation peacefully so that velvet revolution becomes a permanent way of changing untenable situations.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

BLOGGERS vs. MR. RATHER: PAJAMAS vs. SUITS

Did the Internet bloggers defeat Dan Rather? See this piece in The New York Post.

We will probably remember 2004 as the year in which the Interet surpassed the old television networks (CBS, NBC, and ABC) as the main source of news for US voters.
TARGET: NORTH KOREA

President Bush has identified the "axis of evil" as the source of trouble in the world today: Iraq, Iran, North Korea. The US has invaded Iraq and is now threatening Iran. Will it also threaten North Korea?

The neocons in the US government hope so. As the Asia Times reports,

The US foreign policy hawks who pushed for the Iraq invasion are now pushing President George W Bush to take extreme measures with North Korea, including planning for an economic embargo or for military strikes to bring about regime change and a better class of dictator.


These plans were allegedly discussed at the APEC meeting in Chile last week.

Will the US actually begin a campaign for "regime change" in North Korea? Will that include military strikes?

Have the neocons learned no lessons from the Iraq invasion?


Tuesday, November 23, 2004

IT'S RATHER LATE

So, Dan Rather has announced that he is leaving his job as anchor of the CBS evening news program. But, like Tom Brokaw at NBC, he plans to hang on for a long time between his announcement and his departure. The reluctant departure, both!

The decision was inevitable. After the debacle of "Sixty Minutes" and the forged documents accusing President Bush, Rather was finished. He just did not have the grace to resign immediately.

But it was only a matter of time before CBS pushed him out. It is just too bad that CBS waited so long to make a decision it should have made years ago.

"Too bad" because CBS has lost viewers in a steady decline. It will be difficult to regain viewers after this amount of damage has been done. CBS should not follow the NBC model of simply appointing another anchor (Brian Williams for NBC, ugh!).

If CBS wants to have a serious news division and regain the trust of viewers, it needs to devise an entirely different model for delivering the evening news. Otherwise, it should simply stop trying to deliver the news and become solely an entertainment and sports channel.

IS BUSH A LAME DUCK?

The intelligence reform bill failed to get approval by the House of Representatives, even though President Bush favored it and, he alleges, lobbied for it. And the Republicans have a majority in the House!

Interestingly the opposition to the bill's passage came not from Democrats but from Republicans. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld opposed it, as did the Republican chairmen of the Judiciary Committe and the Military Affairs Committee.

As we warned before, Bush should begin watching for opposition to his programs developing among conservative Republicans!

What now has to be asked is whether Bush, with this act by the House, has become a lame duck already? The weakening of the president's powers in the last year of his final term is to be expected. What is a surprise here is that Bush's lame-duck status may already be appearing even before the start of his second term!

We will have to watch how Bush deals with Rumsfeld. If he does not fire him over this matter, he is acquiescing in being a lame duck.

Monday, November 22, 2004

US TROOP REDUCTION

Watch for the development of a major policy debate in the US over the reduction of military forces in Iraq.

The surprise will be that the Pentagon hawks and neocons who championed the US intervention in Iraq will now argue for the downsizing of the US military presence in that country:


A growing number of national security specialists who supported the
toppling of Saddam Hussein are moving to a position unthinkable even a few months ago: that the large US military presence is impeding stability as much as contributing to it and that the United States shouldbegin major reductions in troops beginning early next year.

Their assessments, expressed in reports, think tank meetings, and interviews, run counter to the Bush administration's
insistence that the troops will remain indefinitely to establish security.But some contend that the growing support for an earlier pullout could alter the administration's thinking.

Those arguing for immediate troop reductions
include key Pentagon advisers, prominent neoconservatives, and some of the fiercest supporters of the Iraq invasion among Washington's policy elite.


The core of their arguments is that even as the US-led coalition goes on the offensive against the insurgency, the United States, by its very presence, is stimulating the resistance.



The argument for troop reduction is a recognition that US policy is not working by the very individuals who formulated the policy.

It is also a recognition of the over-extension of US military commitment, at a rtime when the Pentagon wants to press the case against Iran and North Korea.

The problem, of course, is that disengaging from Iraq may not be so easy. The possibility that US military may be replaced by newly-trained Iraqi police and military has something of a dream quality to it: wishful thinking but doubtful. Once you grab the tiger by the tail, it is difficult and dangerous to let go.

In any case, it is now clear that the Bush Administration is trying to formulate an exit strategy.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

PENTAGON HAWKS FLYING

As we have posted several times, there are signs that the neo-con hawks in the Pentagon are gearing up for a showdown with Iran over its nuclear program. Now Britain's Guardian has picked up on this developing story:

Pentagon hawks have begun discussing military action against Iran to
neutralise its nuclear weapons threat, including possible strikes on leadership,
political and security targets.

The neo-con ideological commitment to transforming the Middle East threatens to hurry the US into military over-extension.

President Bush has spoken about a tripartite "axis of evil." He has invaded one of the three, Iraq. Will he now want military action against another, Iran?

Saturday, November 20, 2004

DEMONSTRATIONS AGAINST BUSH

The public demonstrations currently being held against President Bush and his Iraq policy in Santiago, Chile during the APEC Forum are a forecast of a wave of demonstrations that will follow him anywhere he travels in the world.

The worry that similar demonstrations will geet him when he tavels to Canada later in November is voiced by Toronto's Globe and Mail in the article "APEC-Style Protests Feared for Bush's Ottawa Visit." Specifically,

As anti-George Bush American protesters clashed with police in the streets of Santiago yesterday, Prime Minister Paul Martin called for Canadians who disagree with the U.S. President to keep their dissent "reasonable" when Mr. Bush visits Ottawa later this month.

Such demonstrations should be a cause for worry about the place of the US in the world. Will similar demonstrations begin within the US?
MUSLIM CONFLICT COMING IN GERMANY

All eyes are on the conflict in the Netherlands involving the Muslim community there. But the conflict may be emerging more threateningly in Germany, where there is also a large Muslim population.

Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports on statements made by Annette Schavan, cultural affairs minister in the government of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, in her campaign to be elected premier of the state:

Schavan, who is running to become the state's premier, suggested that imams in
Germany should speak only German when they preach in mosques. “We no longer can allow mosques to use languages that are not understood outside the Islamic
community,“ she told the dpa wire service.She said the idea could be introduced
as legislation in the Bundesrat, the chamber that represents Germany's 16 states
on national issues. “In an open society, everyone must be willing to communicate
in the language of the country,“ she said.


Her views encompass anti-foreign, anti-immigration, and anti-Muslim sentiments that are popular in Germany. They amount to a warning to Muslims. And they are a clear sign of the emerging conflict.

Will Jews be allowed to use Hebrew in synagogues and Catholics to use Latin in church? Ms. Schavan does not address those questions.

The Middle East is not the exclusive area for cultural conflict. The cultural conflict will spread strongly to Europe.


CHINA CHALLENGES US IN LATIN AMERICA

We have been warning that the US dominance in Latin America is being challenged by China while the US is preoccupied in the Middle East. The Monroe Doctrine has for over 150 years claimed Latin America as a US sphere of influence. Expect the Monroe Doctrine to be challenged in the 21st century.

Now The New York Times has picked up on the Chinese push into Latin America in its article, "China Widening Economic Role in Latin America." Here is the gist of the article:

But while the United States may still regard the region as its backyard,
its dominance is no longer unquestioned. Suddenly, the presence of China can be
felt everywhere, from the backwaters of the Amazon to mining camps in the
Andes.

One of the costs of US intervention in the Middle East may be the loss of Latin America as its backyard. It is part of a process in which China will increasingly challenge the US position as the world's only super power.

The end of the Monroe Doctrine will be one of the major reversals of modern history.
US ANTI-TERRORISM: IS THAILAND NEXT?

The US commitment to fight terrorism globally seems to grow and grow. Asia Times reports on a new US commitment to assist Thailand against a possible Muslim insurgency:

The US Defense Department has trained and equipped police on the tourist
playground island of Phuket to prevent "international terrorists" staging a
copycat of the October 2002 Bali bombing, a Thai official said.

When does a global commitment become over-extension?

Did the US once act the same way to stop the spread of Commmunism?
GOP ASSEMBLY LINE?

We have been suggesting that the Republican Party might succumb to arrogance because of misunderstanding the message from the voters in the November election.

The Boston Globe describes the energetic hustle of congressional Republicans to get an assembly line going for the President's agenda:

With expanded majorities in both houses of Congress, Republican leaders are
tightening the circle of power and sending warning signals to moderates and
Democrats who might threaten the ambitious legislative agenda of the White
House.


Railroading an agenda through is a mistake, as trains do get derailed. The GOP has to understand what the mandate is.

Friday, November 19, 2004

AFGHANISTAN AS A NARCO-STATE

The United Nations has issued a study that reports on the level of drug trade in and through Afganistan:

Heroin production is booming in Afghanistan, undermining democracy and putting money in the coffers of terrorists, according to a U.N. report Thursday that called on
U.S. and NATO-led forces get more involved in fighting drug traffickers.


It is a consequence of the US invasion of Afghanistan that it has become a narco-state. An unintended consequence, of course.

If you want the opium trade in Afghanistan suppressed, put the Taliban back in power. When the Taliban ruled the country, they were committed to ending the growth of poppies, production of opium, and transport of heroin - all part of their puritanical ethic.

Now Afghanistan joins with Colombia on the world stage of globalization.




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