Friday, January 31, 2003

Cobra on the Loose

Have you ever been to a friend’s house who has a pet snake in a terrarium? Imagine that this snake is poisonous. You would feel uncomfortable standing near it even though you could clearly see that the snake was in his cage. Imagine that this snake escapes. His owners would search the house up and down but to no avail. You would not want to walk into that house where the snake was on the loose, let alone sleep there. In fact, you would not even want to be in that neighborhood since the venous snake could be anywhere and strike at any time. The world will feel like that neighborhood after Saddam Hussein and his entourage, along with his more portable weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s), escape from Iraq at the start of any conflict, and he begins to seek revenge on the United States for the years of humiliation that have been inflicted upon him.

If George W. Bush invades Iraq and forces Saddam into a secret exile, the risk of Saddam using his WMD’s in a terrorist attack against the US will actually go up—not down—thus putting Americans at risk of a smallpox or anthrax attack. A successful war would accomplish precisely the opposite of what we are being told it will be waged for.

Saddam is an exceedingly wealthy man; he has been collecting profits from oil sales for decades. He has also been in America’s crosshairs for years. There is every chance that he has planned for the day that the next US invasion was launched by setting up several safe houses around the world to which he could flee and live in security. Iraqi citizens have been seeking asylum all over the world, it is entirely likely that some of those people were agents of Saddam, setting up his post-Iraq life.

Biological agents are quite small. They are held for the most part in vials or small containers. It would be extremely easy for Saddam to flee Iraq with these. He would not have delivery systems for the WMD’s suitable for a battlefield, but as we have seen, delivery systems for terrorism are much easier to find. In the case of anthrax (which by they way we know he has because we sent it to him) an envelope or an aerosol devise is sufficient. In the case of smallpox, a human being is the best deliver system. Chemical weapons can be delivered in an improvised device. For terrorist purposes, it is not necessary to kill thousands. As the sniper case showed us, even with relatively few deaths the population can be paralyzed with fear.

Could Saddam acquire nuclear weapons while in exile? If one were available on the black market he could certainly afford to buy it. North Korea is currently enriching plutonium. Soon this will be available for purchase. It would have made too much sense for Saddam to send his best weapons scientists away from the prying eyes of the UN inspectors off to exile. With enriched plutonium it is relatively easy to assemble a nuclear devise. Saddam would have to sneak whatever nuclear devise he may obtain (or have already) into the US in a shipping container. At least a few of the 10,000 recent Iraqi dissident arrivals in the US must still be in Saddam’s employ.

In exile, Saddam would no longer be able to threaten his neighbors with conventional weapons, bringing some increase in security to the region. With no fear of retaliation, he would, however, be free to employ all means necessary to revenge his humiliation suffered at the hands of the United States. As if Al-Qaida were not enough, we would then have a secular terrorist organization headed by Saddam, with videotapes being sent to Al-Jazeera, to worry about. What’s more, many American soldiers would need to die invading Iraq in order to create this situation.

What are the arguments against this scenario? The first is that Saddam would never flee Iraq, but instead, go down with the ship and die a martyr’s death. Saddam may be no military genius but he is, however, a survival genius. He has a will to live that has seen him through numerous attempts on his life and years of being hunted by the CIA. I just don’t see him giving up all his riches to die or be captured by Americans, and surely he is not stupid enough to believe he can defeat the American invasion.

The next argument would be that once in exile, Saddam would mellow and just live out his final years in peace surrounded by his loving family.

The final argument would be that the US military could be trusted to capture or kill Saddam in Iraq.

We are contemplating sending soldiers to be killed in their hundreds, if not thousands, in order to create a situation in which, if the war goes to plan and Saddam is forced to flee, America will be in even more danger that before the conflict began. Has anybody thought about this?

Thursday, January 30, 2003

William Safire has a perfect example of treasonously dangerous illogic.

First he raises the specter of Saddam Hussein possessing smallpox:

If the war goes very badly ? if Saddam uses smallpox or nerve gas to make our military pay dearly for our victory.

He next cleverly prepares the American public for this:

However, if the war goes well ? that is, if pounding from the air and invasion from north and south cracks the Baathist will and causes Saddam and ilk to flee

Finally he points out the best delivery system for smallpox, the human being:

If Saddam were to use crude weapons of mass destruction against our forces, or send smallpox carriers into our cities, that would be the ultimate, retrospective smoking gun.

Safire himself states that Saddam has smallpox, will flee alive from Iraq if we invade, and may send smallpox carriers into our cities. My question is, is Saddam more likely to do this while sitting in Baghdad or while in exile in some isolated village in Somalia? Surely he would not dare use smallpox while he is ruling Iraq, because even if we could not prove it, he would be bombed first and the questions would be postponed until a later, more convenient, date. His family and regime would be immediately disintegrated.

Smallpox is a virus that is normally contained in a vial. It is not all the difficult to transport, Saddam could keep it in his trouser pockets. Once a sample is acquired, creating multiple samples is easy. The simplest delivery system is to infect a human being and to have them ride a metro system for the two weeks that they are infectous. They would infect thousands who each in turn would infect thousands more before their symptoms started to show. Saddam is far more likely to use such a system as revenge if he goes underground. Therefore, a war to force Saddam out of Iraq will gravely endanger the lives of the American people.

Our leaders are not fools. They desperately want another attack. They see Al-Qaida as has-beens and not really up to the job of killing Americans. In response they are creating a new monster, an unimaginably wealthy Saddam Hussein, on the loose with smallpox, seeking revenge on America.

The American people are right now out in the cold, they have been wandering for some time, they are feeling tired. They see a nice place under a tree to rest. They are feeling sleepy.

Open your eyes America and stop this before it is too late.
Yesterday, Le Monde had an interesting article on how the American television networks are molding public opinion to support a war. It states that the strategy is to create a situation of heightened tension and to maintain it long enough so that the inevitability of war sets in. In other words people just give up their resistance to what they know (or knew before the propaganda onslaught) to be wrong and decide it is better to just get it over with.

La compétition acharnée entre les chaînes, le ton martial, la multiplication des émissions spéciales, la tension, tout cela contribue pour le public à renforcer le caractère inévitable de la guerre", estime Graham T. Allison, professeur à Harvard, qui ajoute que "cette atmosphère pousse aussi les journalistes à en faire toujours un peu plus, il faut en prendre conscience.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

jeanne d’arc applauds George W. Bush’s pledge to ask Congress for 15 billions dollars to combat aids in Africa. This has Colin Powell’s fingerprints all over it. U2’s Bono gets an assist too. I am convinced that Bush is going to select the Secretary of State to be his running mate in 2004. This explains Powell’s sudden willingness to get with the program on the war with Iraq.
I just watched, on the BBC, a very polite, overweight gentleman from the Heritage Foundation. He was spinning the President’s speech, and selling the war in Iraq. One advantage to living on this side of the Atlantic is that American spokesmen are much more blunt and to the point over here.

His point was that Colin Powell is a great statesman, and that if Colin says the war is all right, then that’s all Europe needs to hear on the subject. If Colin says that there are Al-Qaida personnel operating in Iraq, then we just need to take his word for it. After all, Europe would not want to imply that Colin Powell is a liar would it?

The Al-Qaida in Iraq gambit is interesting. The unspoken logic is that, if Al-Qaida is operating in Iraq, then Saddam must have be in on it, and therefore he had something to do with Sept. 11th and deserves to be attacked.

That’s an interesting theorem. Since America is a great Christian nation (or so we are told), and arguably the worse sin a Christian can commit is that of hypocrisy, the rule must be reversible. The absence of two large towers in Manhattan is rather strong evidence of Al-Qaida’s presence in America. Not only that, American flight schools trained these terrorist operatives to carry out their evil doings. American intelligence services were warned of their presence in the country. Surely this justifies a coalition of the more than willing to force George W. Bush’s regime out of power.

In fact, Al-Qaida cells are operating all across Europe. The people here are not quite so brain dead that they are going to fall for this illogic that is not only mindless, it is incredibly disrespectful to the collective intelligence of people around the world. People here know a little bit more about the Muslim world than their American colleagues might suspect. Many people in Europe take their holidays in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt. They realize that there are many camps in the Muslim world, in some ways, believe it or not, it is quite similar to the western world. There are the socialist, westernized, secular types, such as Saddam and Moammar Gadhafi. On the other hand, among others, there are the fundamentalist types, which is the category that Al-Qaida would fall under. These two groups despise each other. While it is not impossible that they would work together against a common enemy, it is rather unlikely. Surely Al-Qaida welcomes the coming chaos in Iraq (assuming a war is launched). They have little chance right now of gaining a foothold there with a ruthless dictator like Saddam and his network of secret police rooting out any hint of Islamic fundamentalism before it has a chance to see the light of day. After any eventual invasion, Al-Qaida can rest assured that finding new recruits in Iraq—and the rest of the Muslim world for that matter--will be easier than shooting fish in a barrel.

A few years ago, I returned to San Francisco to work on a project, and while I was away, my wife decided she needed a car and went out and bought a Ford Escort. I was horrified. How could she select such a bad car. When I returned and actually saw the car, I was relieved to see that only in name did it bear any resemblance to the American version. You see, Ford realized they could not compete in Europe with the same rubbish that they pawn off on American consumers so they manufactured the European Escort in Germany, and it is a high quality car.

It’s the same way with political rhetoric. My advise to American spokesmen who are planning on making the Grand Tour to convince all those wimpy Europeans that war is good; don’t even bother showing up here if you plan on shovelling up the same swill you feed to the American public. In general, the European ability to critically reason has not yet been eroded away by years of intense consumption of mindless television. Not yet at least. If you cannot make a well-reasoned, reversible, historically relevant argument for war, please, don’t bother making the trip. You will just be embarrassing yourself, and more importantly, your country.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Let’s suppose that the Bush Administration is serious about disarming Iraq, that everything we are going through now really is about removing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD’s) and not about Saddam himself. If the Left is going to effectively fight the war option, it is of some importance that we present a viable alternative.

As an architect, when I am faced with a difficult design problem, I start looking at solutions we have used previously when faced with a similar problem. That’s not to say that I would necessarily use that solution since there is a better than even chance that the problem was not solved in a satisfactory, let alone, excellent way. What it does do is to help me understand the problem and to start generating possible good solutions. It is also unlikely that in my search for previous solutions that I will find an exact match to my problem. I must decide which are the critical aspects of the problem and find a problem that at least contains many of these same aspects.

Well what is the problem with Iraq? Throughout the 1980’s the Iraqi government undertook a huge procurement program aimed at acquiring nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. They obviously were successful in procuring the chemical weapons; they used mustard gas against Iran at Hoor-ul-Huzwaize in 1984. There were numerous other instances of chemical weapon use—in direct violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocols—through out the Iran-Iraq war. On 16 March 1988 Iraqi warplanes appeared over the horizon at Halabja. Afterwards, according to Le Monde Diplomatic:

The scene that greeted them in the morning defied description. The streets were strewn with corpses. People had been killed instantaneously by chemicals in the midst of the ordinary acts of everyday life. Babies still sucked their mothers' breasts. Children held their parents' hands, frozen to the spot like a still from a motion picture. In the space of a few hours 5,000 people had died. The 3,200 who no longer had families were buried in a mass grave.

As for biological and nuclear, it is know in the late eighties that the United States sent anthrax samples to Iraq and that there was a very ambitious nuclear program at work.

After the 1991 Gulf War the United Nations Security Council passed a number of resolutions calling on the Iraqis to rid itself of all WMD’s. Saddam Hussein, it is safe to assume, has pretty much ignored these resolutions, obviously following the examples of Israel, who are currently in violation of 31 UNSC resolutions; Turkey, in violation of 22; and Morocco, in violation of 17. For a complete list of the many countries currently in violation of UNSC resolutions, click here

In early 2002, the United States started to push for strict enforcement of these outstanding UNSC resolutions and has threatened war if they are not abided by.

Considering the premise of this posting, I think then problem is pretty clear. How do you get Iraq do voluntarily disarm itself of its WMD’s. The word “voluntarily” is important because it implies a peaceful solution. I will leave it to the military planners to figure out how it is done involuntarily.

If we start looking for a previous example of this problem many people would start with the 1991 Persian Gulf War. There do seem to be some similarities; a president named Bush, a villain named Saddam, shaky public support, talk of the use of chemical weapons, a faltering economy and so on. However, to choose this conflict would be to completely misunderstand the nature of the crisis. The 1991 Gulf War was about evicting an invading army that was immorally and illegally, against the wishes of the vast majority of the international community, occupying another state’s territory. This aforementioned territory also just happened to be sitting on top of a whole lot of oil. This doesn’t match our problem at all.

We need to concentrate on disarmament and I can think of two recent cases that have some similarities to our problem. The first is the case of Ukraine and Kazakhstan, who voluntarily gave up the nuclear weapons they inherited after the fall of the Soviet Union. There are clear problems with this one right from the start. These were two newly independent countries where the former colonial ruler, the USSR, had deployed these weapons which were of no strategic use to these countries. In fact they were more of a problem that anything else. Iraq has over the decades actively procured and used its WMD’s. They are a vital part of the Iraqi security mentality, they are hardly going to just say, “never mind” and give them up.

The other possible model is the on-going peace process involving the decommissioning of weapons by the Provisional Irish Republican Army in Northern Ireland. Again there are problems. One major difference is the fact that we are talking about conventional weapons in Ireland and WMD’s in Iraq. Another difference is that the Provisional IRA is not a government but a paramilitary organization. In terms of similarities, the IRA has spent years acquiring these weapons, they have often used them to devastating effect, and they see the weapons as vital for their survival. To me these latter qualities are more important than the former. It seems to me that the basic characteristics of the problem are there, we can restate it as--how do we get a politico-military entity to voluntarily disarm itself of weapons it feels are fundamental to its survival?

Looking back on the Good Friday Agreements and the Northern Ireland peace process, there were two elements that finally pushed the IRA to begin decommissioning their weapons, trust and pressure. Without going through the whole history of the Troubles, it was unthinkable that the Republicans would start to disarm before there were assurances of their continued survival and, even more importantly, future prosperity. There had to be a reasonable, disarmed, future to look forward to before decommissioning could begin. On the other hand, people do not make life-threatening choices without some pressure being put on them and the Provisional IRA certainly came under its share of pressure from the Unionists, the Irish and British governments and especially the people of Belfast who wanted something more than the constant heartbreak of the Troubles. From the beginning, everyone understood that this would be a long-term, muddy process with many ups and downs, lots of twists and turns, few dramatic victories, and many bitter setbacks. It doesn’t sound very appealing unless we consider the alternative, a point Tony Blair has made many times.

If we compare this to our current problem in Iraq, we are certainly seeing the pressure build up. I can’t say that much trust is being generated however. There is a serious lack of any incentive for Iraq to disarm. George Bush has made this seem like a personal feud between himself and the Iraqi dictator, with only the latter’s removal likely to satisfy the former. Clearly, if this really is the case, then war is unavoidable.

The premise of this posting is however, that it’s all about the WMD’s. Therefore, Saddam Hussein needs some carrots to go along with the 150,000 sticks currently sitting out in the Gulf. He needs to be assured that if he really does verifiably disarm, he will not, as a result, be attacked. He needs to be told if he does come into compliance with UNSC resolutions that the sanctions really will be lifted. He needs to be told that as soon as the sanctions are lifted that he will then come under intense diplomatic pressure to improve his abysmal human rights record.

How would we know that he has verifiably disarmed? Good question, lets look to Northern Ireland for a possible answer. How will we ever know if the IRA has disarmed? The answer is obvious, we’ll never know. What we do know is that they have put a number of their weapons beyond use, in front of international observers, but it will always be impossible to say that they have completely disarmed. The fact that they have stopped using their weapons and have begun to decommission is accepted as the best of many possible less than satisfying results. With UN inspectors in place, most of his weapons will eventually be found but we will never be sure if we have found them all.

Why accept such an unsatisfying result when we can just invade and wipe out all his stockpiles of WMD’s? This seems to be what the Administration is saying. Think about it. It is widely accepted that Iraq has failed to come anywhere close to building an atomic devise. Chemical weapons are widely available throughout the world, terrorists have a ready supply of these should they choose to use them. Taking out Saddam will not change this fact.

Biological weapons are, however, extremely dangerous and not so commonly available. They are also rather small. Iraq’s entire stock of biological agents could probably fit into a large suitcase. After decades of plundering oil revenues, Saddam Hussein and his family are extremely wealthy. A day or two before the war started, what would stop Saddam and his family from taking a caravan of Land Rovers across the desert to a southern Syrian military airfield and on to Karachi and then on to God knows which third world country where Saddam’s net worth would triple the local GNP. From there he could easily launch revenge attacks with his suitcase full of vials. There would be little to no chance of reprisals. If Osama did it surely Saddam can too.

But how can we deal with such a man, how could we trust him? In fact, Saddam has never attacked the United States or Great Britain. The IRA carried out a massive bombing campaign killing hundreds throughout the British Isles. I was amazed at the level of hatred for the IRA among average people when I first started working in London a few years ago. Once at a pub after work, we were having one of out usual heated discussions and the topic of the IRA came up. For a laugh I began defending them, and my friend’s wife Carol went absolutely ballistic on me. The next day I asked another friend about it and he somewhat coldly informed me that in the future I might be a little more discreet with my opinions in front of Carol since her father, who was a policeman, had been killed by an IRA bomb fifteen years earlier.

The people of Britain have been able to overcome this hatred and to start a healing process. There is nowhere near the same level of personal hatred for Saddam Hussein in America or Britain.

In fact Saddam is at this moment contained. Some may say anything short of war is appeasement. It’s a word that, along with its partner for all eternity, Neville Chamberlain, is being thrown around a lot these days. Appeasement is making a deal in which your strategic situation is weakened in the hope that your opponent will be satisfied into not making further demands. Chamberlain gave up the mountainous regions of Czechoslovakia, which could have been easily defended, to Hitler for a promise of no more territorial gains. The next natural barrier was the Ural Mountains, on the other side of Moscow. Imposing a decommissioning program on Saddam gives him no strategic advantage. If some time in the future evidence is produced to show he really is an extreme danger, military action would then still be possible. With UN inspectors running around his country it is not likely he will start any nuclear programs anytime soon.

On Iraq, Tony Blair sounds a lot more like Ian Paisley on Northern Ireland than Tony Blair on Northern Ireland. He has been very eloquent on the needs to keep the Good Friday peace accords alive despite the setbacks. He needs to examine his conscience and ask himself if an Iraqi civilian is really worth that much less than an Irish one.

George Bush needs to do what he does best, delegate. The Iraqi dossier is definitely one for the European diplomats. A serious peace effort needs to be launched in the Persian Gulf, one roughly based on the Northern Irish peace process. The inspectors on the ground are a good first step. More steps need to follow. The threat of force is a necessary ingredient for the time being, but it should be slowly withdrawn as progress is made. It will be a difficult process for all parties to swallow. It will be muddy. It will not be satisfying. What better tribute to the people of Ulster than to use their example, warts and all, to set in motion a solution to an even greater problem.

The 1998 bombing of the County Tyrone town of Omagh killed 29 civilians and outraged the world. In 1991 two bombs punched through the ground and exploded in the Al-Amiriya bomb shelter, killing 408 people, mostly woman and children. Most people in the world have never heard about it. In all between 2500 and 3500 civilians died as a result of the 1991 war. The 2003 version could very well be much bloody. There are perhaps tens of thousand of people in Iraq this very minute—literally living ghosts—who will be obliterated from this earth if the war goes ahead. Who knows, among them may be a future Arab leader who will bring freedom and democracy to his people.

There are 150,000 American soldiers currently in the Gulf. A number of them will not be returning if there is a war. Who knows, maybe there is a future business leader or surgeon among them. More likely still, one of them might have been a really good father to his children back home.

That’s why, where there is an alternative, I would choose the mud of a messy peace process over the blood of war, every time.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Towards the end of a Newsweek story about Colin Powell’s miraculous conversion to hawkism, this little tidbit is snuck in:

Administration officials tell NEWSWEEK their strategy is to give one last chance, not to Baghdad, but to the United Nations. That means a final diplomatic push—to win over world opinion—lasting weeks, not months.

The media, and the Administration, are in propaganda overdrive to both insulate Powell from an eventual withering attack from the right and soft sell Bush’s climb-down regarding a second UN resolution.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Bahgdad in the Fall

I just saw this on the BBC:

An influential United States senator has told the BBC that America will push for a second resolution on disarming Iraq after United Nations weapons inspectors deliver their report on Monday. Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told BBC News Online's Talking Point programme that Security Council diplomats would have their "work cut out" for them when they met on Wednesday.

This means that the war will be delayed until at least the fall. The Neo-conservatives are going to go absolutely ape shit when then see this. I can’t wait!

Checkmate in the Gulf

CalPundit’s Kevin Drum usually has the answers, but today he is asking,
“What the hell going on around here?”
regarding the Administration’s flip-flop on Iraq. I think I may have the answer.

His name is Gordon Brown. He is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he will almost certainly be the next Prime Minister of Britain. Although Tony Blair may act Presidential, he is only a Prime Minister, and as soon as half of the Labour Party MP’s have had enough of him, he becomes a backbencher. For Americans, think Trent Lott.

There are huge risks involved with attacking Iraq. Politically it is better to force Saddam Hussein to cede power voluntarily. Of course, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Iraqi leader realizes this is a pipe dream. More importantly however, playing the game of forcing Saddam Hussein to resign has some logic. It is to diplomacy what dancing is to romance. The Americans may realize that Saddam is unlikely to just walk away, but they have used this storyline to draw Tony Blair—and the Allies-- in so far that, at the last minute, the Administration could have its way with them. Tony Blair danced along desperately hoping the UN inspectors might find something in Iraq, while at the same time, helping to moderate Bush’s extreme behavior. The French played along too, but when the obvious endgame came into sight, they turned off the music.

The Labour Party in Britain is split evenly on whether to go to war with a UN resolution. There is absolutely no possibility of Britain entering the war without the specific approval of the UN. Why? The Labour Party activists say so, that’s why. Gordon Brown represents “Old Labour” which is more left leaning than Tony Blair’s “New Labour”. He is aching to get into power, and he absolutely detests Tony Blair. Some people claim that, back in 1994, there was a deal between Blair and Brown whereby Blair would step down sometime during his second term so that Brown could lead the Labour Party to its third term (the results are a foregone conclusion because the Tories are in disarray and have no chance of coming anywhere close at the next election, they will be lucky not to come in third). He is a serious threat to Blair, who is not at all ready to give up power just yet. In a not-so-subtle message to Blair, Labour Party elders have been on the BBC during the past week warning that he would suffer the same fate as Anthony Eden—who was thrown out of power following the Suez crisis of 1957—if he entered into a war in Iraq without a specific UN mandate.

On Monday, France ended the charade with Saddam by announcing that they would veto any UN resolution calling for war in Iraq. The Bush Administration then started inquiring to Tony Blair as to what his intentions were. At the same time, Bush turned up the rhetoric to both pressure Blair and to appease the right in America. Sometime yesterday Blair let Bush know that it was a no go without a UN resolution. With Gordon Brown on his tails, he cannot risk a humiliating leadership challenge. For Bush, it is one thing not having the French on board, but without the British--and with an increasingly skeptical American public--war was going to just have to wait. The Administration was forced to announce that it would let the UN inspections continue.

So today, 150,000 troops are either in the Persian Gulf or on their way. They’re waiting patiently for the President to make up his mind. Conservatives across the country woke up this morning and got real excited reading about the possible use of nuclear weapons while reminding themselves that they had a President with “resolve”. In France, Total Fina (a huge French oil company) executives poured over maps of Iraqi oil fields, trying to figure out which ones were the best. In the White House, the Administration was also waiting for the President to decide when the war would begin. At the Palais de l'Elysee in Paris, the President of France, Jacques Chirac, is trying to make up his mind as to if, or when, those 150,000 troops in the Gulf will go to war.

In a nutshell, Bush has lost control of the situation. If a war were actually about to start, he would talk calmly and surely to the American people to show he was rational and fair and regretted taking this decision. When it starts looking like he may have to wait for a while or put the war off altogether, the wild rhetoric will flow to appease an increasingly weary neo-conservative right, and then he will declare a bloodless victory. In the meantime, Jacques Chirac has him in checkmate. Expect a lot of heated rhetoric.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

According to the BBC:

The US says it can count on support from "at least a dozen" governments if it decides to attack Iraq without a fresh UN resolution. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said these unnamed governments would, like Washington, prefer a UN resolution authorising the use of force - but he added that they would not insist on this.

Let’s think about that. There are currently 191 members states in the UN. Less one for the US that means out of 190 nations left, 12 support an attack without a specific UN resolution, or 6.3%. Another way to look at it is that the most powerful nation in the world has turned 178 nations, or 93.7% of the world, against it. The Bush Administration’s strong point is supposed to be foreign policy?

The other subtle sub-text of this statement is to imply that Britain is one of these twelve countries. He repeats a phrase-- “these unnamed governments would, like Washington, prefer a UN resolution authorising the use of force”-- that Tony Blair has used before. As I mention below, Blair will not be there without a UN resolution and that it why the Administration is forced to delay. The fate of the world is resting in Jacques Chirac’s hands.
When it comes to the economy and national security, President Bush is demonstrating a genuine lack of leadership by handing out huge tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans while tens of thousands of US soldiers are reduced to sneaking off to soup kitchens to keep from going hungry because their pay is so low that it is impossible to make ends meet. Brian Mann of Voice, of America, writes:

“… No matter how skillful a person or a family is, when you are earning somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000 a month before taxes, and you have three or four children, you are not going to be able to survive comfortably, even if you know how to make everything stretch.

The most recent Department of Defense report, from 1999, found that 40% of lower rank soldiers face "substantial financial difficulties." For her book, Ms. Schwartz-Nobel interviewed families at the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base in San Diego. Some told her, they simply go hungry. "For several days at the end of each paycheck period, they often have almost nothing to eat - sometimes absolutely nothing," said Loretta Schwartz-Nobel. "That's when they turn up desperate at food pantries, soup kitchens, bread lines, because they've literally run out."

This kind of need is painful for soldiers. Amy Levesque, with the food pantry in Watertown, says many of her military friends are too proud to speak up. "They have a very hard time coming in here and saying, I need help," said Amy Levesque. "It's kind of a shame thing. They feel embarrassed. They feel like they can't provide for their own. Dignity, they feel like they're losing part of their dignity. "

Military bases around the country once allowed food pantries to bring supplies inside their gates. Here at Fort Drum, trucks delivered free food regularly, offering soldiers and their families more privacy. The trucks were banned after the September 11 terror attacks, forcing the families, and the problem of military poverty, into public view.

It is unthinkable that, in a society as rich as the United States, anybody, let alone soldiers, would be put into this type of situation. Where is the President’s team spirit? How can he allow troops—whose lives are on the line as they protect America—to be humiliated in this way. He rightly faults North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il for letting his people starve. Surely the good patriotic hyper-wealthy people, in gated-communities all around the country, will demand the President withdraw his “tax relief” and instead give some “poverty relief “ to the brave fighting men and women of this country and, as a matter of fact, to all needy Americans.
In the NY Times today:

Seeking ways to defuse tensions with longtime European allies, Bush administration officials said today that they were considering a delay of possibly several weeks before pressing the United Nations for a decision about Iraq's compliance with Security Council resolutions.

The Los Angeles Times reported today that the United States and Britain were consulting over whether to extend the inspections in exchange for assurances from allies that they would not drag on indefinitely. But administration officials insisted that there was no specific proposal being discussed.

Tony Blair’s job is on the line. As Prime Minister, he can be replaced at almost anytime. All it takes is for a majority of Labout MP’s to vote against him in a leadership challenge. His party is deeply divided over going to war with Iraq—with a UN resolution—it is out of the question for him to consider doing it with out the UN’s backing. It has been clear for some time that he and Bush are trying to bluff Saddam Hussein out of power.

But officials also acknowledged that their hope was that the extra weeks might placate the allies, particularly the French, who have mounted a strong campaign to forestall an American attack on Iraq. Officials stressed that they had not approached the allies with any compromise, and it was unclear how the French would react.

North Korea has shown the world what happens when you stand up to the Bush Administration, it crumbles like the house of cards that it is. France has obviously taken note of this. After a couple of days of talking trash, the Administration has let the appeasement begin. As Paul Krugman says, “talk trash and carry a little stick”.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

It’s an interesting time to be an American living in Europe.

When I noticed that the worldly Instapundit (via the excellent No More Mister Nice Blog ) had this to say about Europeans:

Let's be honest here: there's a whole crowd in Europe that can't get over its disappointment that the wrong side won the Cold War, and that even lesser-path communism (that is, Euro-socialism) has been shown up as a failure. That's what this [opposition to an Iraq war] is all about, really.

I was immediately concerned, and I asked some of my European co-workers this series of questions:

Since Europe is a failure, would you like to give up your universal health care and trade it in for a system in which 25% of all children go uncovered—and, oh by the way, you will get booted out of the hospital two hours after having surgery.

Since Europe is practicing lesser-path communism, would you like to give up your five weeks vacation and trade it in for two weeks a year, like they do in successful countries.

Since Europe is afraid to deliver a SmackDown to a swarthy dictator, would you like to trade in all of your social workers, who nip problems in the bud, for a penitentiary-industrial complex in which you spend 100 times more on police, prisons, courts, and insurance. You’re crime rate will quadruple, but no worries, just lose all of those wussy gun laws, and you’ll feel as safe as houses.

Since Europe is practicing a scorched earth class warfare policy against its top 1% of the population, would you like to trade in your Marxist-Leninist system of six months paid maternity (and often Paternity) leave for a more capitalist friendly system of no paid leave.

Since Europe needs to start speaking English and only English, would you like to get rid of your free pre-school child-care system and replace it with—well--nothing.

Since Europe needs to start practicing compassionate conservatism, would you like to lose all those eco-friendly policies you are always bragging about and just rip up the whole Kyoto Treaty and instead live life to the fullest, at any cost.

While lots of my colleagues mentioned how nice Americans are individually and how beautiful the geographical features of the country are, alas, to a person, they were all happy to continue just being failures.
George W. Bush has me thinking thoughts I never imagined possible. For instance: wouldn’t it be so much better if Dan Quayle were President instead.
“Two years from now only the Brits may be with us”, George W. Bush is quoted as saying in 2001, in Bob Woodward’s ‘Bush at War”.

It looks like our little rocket scientist-in-chief is wrong again:

The row leaves Britain torn between its European and American allegiances. Diplomatic sources said Britain was unlikely to join America in declaring Iraq in “further material breach” next week, the trigger for war. “I do not think the inspectors will bring to the Security Council the basis for that,” one official said. Britain appeared happy to go along with the German schedule because it buys time for the inspectors to turn up a “smoking gun” before the weather gets too hot for a military campaign.
Congratulations to all my mates in London, for this.
As usual, Seymour Hersh has the inside story on What the Administration knew about Pakistan and the North Korean nuclear program

The money quote:

One American intelligence official told me, "The Bush doctrine says MAD"—mutual assured destruction—"will not work for these rogue nations, and therefore we have to preëmpt if negotiations don't work. And the Bush people knew that the North Koreans had already reinvigorated their programs and were more dangerous than Iraq. But they didn't tell anyone. They have bankrupted their own policy—thus far—by not doing what their doctrine calls for."
Empty Warheads have been found in Washington.
It looks like Saddam Hussein is, among other things, guilty of plagiarism. It was actually Winston Churchill who first came up with the idea to gas the Kurds in Iraq

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Thomas Friedman thinks we are going to create a democracy in Iraq.

It is not unreasonable to believe that if the U.S. removed Saddam and helped Iraqis build not an overnight democracy but a more accountable, progressive and democratizing regime, it would have a positive, transforming effect on the entire Arab world — a region desperately in need of a progressive model that works.

By the way, what exactly is a democratizing regime? Let me guess, a Shah of Iraq?

Take a look at South Korea and Germany, two democracies that have recently held elections. The winning candidates in both countries ran against the United States of America. These are considered friendly nations. Now, all you rocket scientists out there claiming that we are about to install a democracy, or at least a “democratizing regime”, in Iraq; what do you think any future candidate for the Iraqi presidency would run on? Let me help you out a little, it will not be apple pie and Chevrolet. Osama bin Laden could send one of his sons to Iraqi and he would win the presidency in a huge landslide.

The people of Iraq hardly have warm and fuzzy feelings towards America. We killed
100,000 civilians during the first Gulf War and a million children have died as a result of sanctions
. If the next war actually happens, who knows how many more dead Iraqis we will be responsible for? In a nutshell, they hate us.

Government reflecting the will of the people is the principle of democracy. The will of the Iraqi people is not one the United States, now or any time soon, wants to see reflected anywhere near Iraq. The sight of American soldiers firing into and/or destroying mosques, as they will most certainly need to do if street fighting erupts in Baghdad, is not one that will endear the new occupiers to the people of Iraq. With an occupation army in place it will only take one reported rape, whether true or not, splashed all over Al-Jazeera, to destroy any good faith the Iraqis may feel at being liberated from Saddam Hussein.

Bush will demand a pro-American government first and foremost. Since the United Kingdom is just about the only pro-American democracy left in the world, it is hardly likely that this would be the Iraqi peoples first inclination. In the Middle East, American “vital interests” are in fundamental conflict with the existence of democracy, and it will never be tolerated anywhere near the Persian Gulf.

Does the name Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh mean anything to you? Not only was he Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1951, he was also the last democratically elected leader in the Persian Gulf region.

In the minds of a majority of Iranians, the late Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh is a shinning icon of independence, democracy, patriotism and the rule of law…..Based on all documented accounts, on May 2nd, 1951, Mossadegh became the most popularly elected prime minister in Iran's history. In June of that same year, Mossadegh implemented the oil nationalization law and removed the control of the Abadan oil installations from the hands of the Anglo-Iranian oil company and transferred its management to Iranian nationals.

The CIA, with the help of the British, overthrew him in 1953. You can read about how we have created just about all of the current dictators in the Middle East here.

Friedman is right about one very important point however:

What threatens Western societies today are not the deterrables, like Saddam, but the undeterrables — the boys who did 9/11, who hate us more than they love life. It's these human missiles of mass destruction that could really destroy our open society. So then the question is: What is the cement mixer that is churning out these undeterrables — these angry, humiliated and often unemployed Muslim youth? That cement mixer is a collection of faltering Arab states, which, as the U.N.'s Arab Human Development Report noted, have fallen so far behind the world their combined G.D.P. does not equal that of Spain.

The leaders of Al-Qaida come from the two main “cement mixers”, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Wouldn’t it be ever so much more effective for our government to at least state publicly that they believe these states are being oppressively run by corrupt regimes, and that we would welcome regime change. After that, if we wanted to be really bold, we could stop sending billions of dollars a year to prop up these manufacturers of angry young terrorists.

After we took these rather simple steps, the world might laugh just a little bit less when they hear that America is going to be a crusader for democracy in the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

It is not the oil. It’s not about establishing democracy in the Middle East. It’s not about empire. It’s not even about weapons of mass destruction any more.

It’s clear, there is one, and only one, factor driving the Bush Administration’s actions towards Iraq; domestic politics. The President feels that after September 11th he needs to wack somebody and do it soon. As the political wizards within the White House would have it, the overthrow of the Taliban regime was not enough.

Today we have this:

In a highly public rebuff, Mr. de Villepin would not rule out the possibility that France would use its veto power if the United States presses the Council later this month to authorize war against Iraq for failing to disarm.

For those of you who don’t trust the American media, Le Monde says pretty much the same thing:

La France s'est vivement opposée aux Etats- Unis, lundi, lors d'une réunion du Conseil de sécurité de l'ONU. Alors que Washington estime que le temps est désormais "compté" pour le régime de Saddam Hussein, le ministre français des affaires étrangères, Dominique de Villepin, a implicitement menacé de bloquer, en faisant usage du droit de veto de la France au Conseil de sécurité, toute résolution américaine qui ouvrirait la voie à la guerre. La Chine et l'Allemagne ont soutenu la position française, face à Colin Powell.

According to a recent poll:

A poll of 1,204 American adults found that only one third of the US public supported a war on Iraq without UN approval and allies.

Tony Blair also has a problem:

Even two-thirds of those who support military action say they believe a fresh UN mandate is necessary, and only 10% of those polled believe that the war should start regardless of whether or not it has explicit new backing from the UN security council.

So what’s going to happen? It is clear that there is not going to be a new UN resolution. The polls show that, politically, Bush has no option but to delay. Bush may decide that he has reaped enough benefits from this endeavor, declare victory, and slowly begin to withdraw the troops. This will enrage the neo-conservative camp to the point of open rebellion. We could again be seeing Saddam Hussein staying in power longer than a George Bush.
During my first year at college, I was quite the little young Republican. I remember writing a paper defending Reagan’s Star Wars plans. Earlier still, I remember as a ten-year boy riding my bicycle around our working class neighborhood shouting with joy that Nixon had won the 1972 election. The neighbors were not amused. I have no idea where all that came from, my parents were hardly politically active, and to this day I have no clue as to which way they vote.

I grew up I--then--completely segregated San Leandro, California. The border between my town and Oakland ran through some backyards; and on the Oakland side, the families were all black; on the San Leandro side, the families were all white. As a child, it never really seemed that strange.

After high school I moved to East Oakland where I was surely the only white guy for blocks. I worked in a large factory that rebuilt turbine engines for military and cargo aircraft. As an entry-level white guy, I was given a job in the disassembly department, it was our job to take apart the newly received engines and to sent them off to the cleaning department. That is where the entry-level black guys were, working all day with searing, splashing, toxic chemicals; cleaning the engine parts, with little or no safety equipment. As an adult, it seemed strange.

Not only was I leaning heavily rightward when I later went to college, I was also a huge U2 fan. I wondered why they had bothered writing about Martin Luther King in “Pride (In the Name of Love)”. I went to the public library in San Leandro, California and checked out a biography about MLK.

The penny dropped. My life has not been the same since.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Monday, January 20, 2003

A big Thank You to The Rittenhouse Review for adding this blog to their Better Blogs & Such list.
“The United States last night offered Saddam Hussein immunity from prosecution if his departure from Baghdad would avert war.”

Talk about hypocrisy:

“ Although the US signed the agreement under former President Bill Clinton, the Bush administration is adamantly opposed to it because of fears its own soldiers would be unfairly prosecuted.”

So we refused to join the International Criminal Court—along with Iraq among others—and now we are offering Saddam Hussein immunity from it. If the Iraqi leader is liable for war crimes without signing the treaty, then surely Bush may also find himself on a one-way plane trip to The Hague if he attacks Iraq without a specific UN mandate.

What about all those weapons of mass destruction? Tony Blair is going to look like a complete fool after this. After exaggerating for months the dangers we all faced, it now all becomes clear. Bush needs a scalp to present to the American people for the 2004 Presidential election. It’s all about domestic American politics.
Liberation discusses the differences between the current anti-war movement
and that of the Vietnam conflict. I think it is important to point out a few other differences. The current protest movement is huge and the war has not even started yet. The negative aspects of war have not reared their ugly heads yet and still we have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets. People say it is not as large as Vietnam, can you imagine what would happen if 350 Americans a week were coming home in body bags as they were in the late sixties? I certainly hope we never find out.

Sunday, January 19, 2003

Why Organic?

Before even getting to the question of organic food, it is crucial to discuss the concept of consumptive democracy. Of course it is important to vote, but while we have a corporate financed political system, there are serious limits as to what will be changed through politics. However, we vote, in a different sense, every time we purchase something. I try to as often as possible to support people or companies that represent how I want the world to be. We buy our vegetables from a local farmer who delivers a big box every two weeks. He knows my three-year-old son Jonathan, and I trust him to do the right thing when it comes to my food. Every euro I spend with him is money the supermarkets are not getting.

One rarely mentioned reason to buy organic is for the health of the farm workers that pick our fruit and vegetables. Science or no science, it is clear that it is not healthy to be in contact with poisons all day long. I certainly would not go out into a pesticide-ridden field and even walk around, let alone pick the fruit.

Banana workers have it particularly bad. There are numerous cases of stillborn or severely disabled children born to banana pickers. I don’t want to be responsible for that. As more and more people buy organic the working conditions for the most vulnerable people in our society will improve, without having to wait for some government to do anything about it.

Personal health is of course a major factor when it comes to spending the extra money to buy organic. Organic food is more nutritious, and it tastes much better than typical supermarket food designed to travel long distances and to look good. I don’t want my son to be ingesting poison every time I feed him so for me the choice is pretty clear.

There is, thankfully, a trend towards better cooking. As Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley will tell you the way to achieve great food is rather simple. Buy the best quality products and prepare them in a simple and honest fashion. Mass produced supermarket food is literally next to impossible to make taste good.

Critics always ask how we can be sure it really is organic. I say you can be sure 95% of the time, and perhaps some people cheat. The only thing that you can be 100% sure of though is that if it is not organic, then it was produced with pesticides.

I live in the French speaking part of Belgium (I moved away from San Francisco five years ago) and here the scale of production is considered exceptionally important. There are three main levels, fermier (farm), artisan, and industrial. Many people say that if a product is labelled organic then it is already being produced at too large a scale. This is because it is not profitable at a really small scale of production to pay for the inspections etc. While this is true, it is still important to buy organic at the larger scales, because the pesticide companies take a hit every time an organic item is purchased. Surely that fact by itself is worth the extra cost.

Monday, January 13, 2003

From today’s Guardian:
A poll of 1,204 American adults found that only one third of the US public supported a war on Iraq without UN approval and allies.With UN backing, 83% of US citizens would support the war, according to the poll, carried out by Princeton Survey Research Associates. It also found that 44% of those who responded thought that "some or most" of the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi citizens.

Make patriotism and critical thinking mutually exclusive. Carefully fold in a recently Pravdatized press, et voila, Tom Tomorrow shows what you get.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Daddy lets them manufacture the Plutonium, and now this: (via Eschaton)

The US Government has announced that it will release $95m to North Korea as part of an agreement to replace the Stalinist country's own nuclear programme, which the US suspected was being misused. In releasing the funding, President George W Bush waived the Framework's requirement that North Korea allow inspectors to ensure it has not hidden away any weapons-grade plutonium from the original reactors. President Bush argued that the decision was "vital to the national security interests of the United States".

The Axis of Evil Effect

As the year 2001 was drawing to a close, George W. Bush’s marketing department had a problem. With the apparent death of Osama bin Laden in the Tora Bora mountain range, the administration lacked an essential element in warfare, a narrative. The strategy that had worked so well for his father, individualization of the enemy, was no longer possible with the individual deceased. Promoting one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants to the role of evil-doer-in-chief was considered, but their names were all so strange and difficult to pronounce, and at the rate that the al-Qaida leadership was dying in Afghanistan, by the time Bush learned to pronounce one new name--while still sounding tough—it would be time to learn another.

In addition, the ethereal nature of al-Qaida was always going to make telling a simple story difficult. Wars are fought against other states, not a group of fanatics hiding in caves. Terrorist groups up until now had almost alwaays been governments in waiting, successful in Israel and South Africa, yet to be determined in Palestine and Ireland, and failed in Germany and Italy. But al-Qaida had no territorial demands. In fact, after its dispersal from Afghanistan, it had no known geographic coordinates. It had some resemblance to a corporation, but without a headquarters to bomb that would hardly make a good storyline, and besides corporations were good. In order to sell this continuous state of war through the hoped for eight years of George Bush and possibly even into Jeb’s first term, they needed some bad guys for George W. to battle one on one. At least sixty percent of the American people would surely come down on his side if the marketing department could get the choice to be between a swarthy dictator and W..

On January 29, 2002, in his State of the Union Address, the administration of George W. Bush spoke to his nation, but proclaimed to the world:
Our second goal is to prevent regimes that sponsor terror from threatening America or our friends and allies with weapons of mass destruction. Some of these regimes have been pretty quiet since September the 11th. But we know their true nature. North Korea is a regime arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction, while starving its citizens. Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom. Iraq continues to flaunt its hostility toward America and to support terror. The Iraqi regime has plotted to develop anthrax, and nerve gas, and nuclear weapons for over a decade. This is a regime that has already used poison gas to murder thousands of its own citizens -- leaving the bodies of mothers huddled over their dead children. This is a regime that agreed to international inspections -- then kicked out the inspectors. This is a regime that has something to hide from the civilized world. States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States. In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic. We will work closely with our coalition to deny terrorists and their state sponsors the materials, technology, and expertise to make and deliver weapons of mass destruction. We will develop and deploy effective missile defenses to protect America and our allies from sudden attack. (Applause.) And all nations should know: America will do what is necessary to ensure our nation's security. We'll be deliberate, yet time is not on our side. I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons. (Applause.)

With that statement, George W. Bush set in motion an Axis of Evil Effect, whereby, with domino-like predictability, rogue (and rogue clair) states around the globe will begin to scramble to acquire nuclear weapons. The resulting nuclear proliferation will in turn lead to a drastic increase in the political price of going to war, in effect neutralizing the United State’s huge conventional military advantage, which in ten to fifteen years will relegate it to regional power status. In other words, with a nuclear-armed Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen; our aircraft carriers will no longer be welcome in the Persian Gulf. The type of no-good-options stand off we are currently seeing with North Korea will become the norm in international relations.

(To be continued)

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Instead of using the oilfields we’re are about to liberate from Iraq to finance
a military occupation
(via Eschaton), why not use those assets to finance an extension to the pathetically weak Family Leave Act? Six months paid paternity or maternity leave, for all new parents, not just those working for a company with more than fifty employees. In addition, I believe the Iraqi oil fields will also be able to finance an ecole maternelle system where free nursery school is provided for, again, all parents of children between the ages of 2 ½ and 5.

After we do Iran, in the run-up to the 2004 presidential election, we can use their oilfields to finance a really top of the line universal health care system for, again, all Americans. We could also extend the hopelessly short two weeks a year minimum vacation to a more robust five weeks a year for, that’s right, all Americans.

Anyone out there have any bright ideas on what the do with the Saudi oilfields, currently on schedule for liberation in the run-up to the 2006 mid-terms, if I’m not mistaken?

Thursday, January 9, 2003

I came across an interesting fact while researching the history of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The North Koreans manufactured all of their Plutonium between 1987 and 1991, this being, of course, during the Reagan/Bush and Bush I administrations. According to the Federation of American Scientists: (scroll down)

close examination by the IAEA of the radioactive isotope content in the nuclear waste revealed that North Korea had extracted about 24 kilograms of Plutonium. North Korea was supposed to have produced 0.9 gram of Plutonium per megawatt every day over a 4-year period from 1987 to 1991. The 0.9 gram per day multiplied by 365 days by 4 years and by 30 megawatts equals to 39 kilograms. When the yearly operation ratio is presumed to be 60 percent, the actual amount was estimated at 60% of 39 kilograms, or some 23.4 kilograms. Since 20-kiloton standard nuclear warhead has 8 kilograms of critical mass, this amounts to mass of material of nuclear fission out of which about 3 nuclear warheads could be extracted.

This is completely contrary to Republican propaganda, eagerly regurgitated by our lap-dog press, which claims former President Clinton is an appeaser and responsible for allowing the North Koreans to become a nuclear power.

Let’s take a look at what really occurred during the past fifteen years. At the same time that he is sending half a million soldiers to Kuwait to evict the third string soldiers of a third world army, Bush pere is allowing the North Koreans to produce at least three nuclear weapons (Chinese and Russian estimates put the number closer to six). In 1994, President Clinton parks an aircraft carrier task force off the North Korean coast, and negotiates an end to the production of plutonium. Bush fils comes to power and rejects the agreements Clinton negotiated, and in response the North Koreans restart their plutonium production. Millions of American lives are now at risk of an Al-Qaida delivered holocaust via North Korea. Nightline should be running nightly specials entitled “America Held Nuclear Hostage, Day 16”. Retired generals should be speculating on how many more months it will be before Al-Qaida takes delivery of the fruits of North Korea’s lethal production line. In the meantime, Bush is playing grab-ass in the Gulf with Saddam Hussein, and his “Hail Mary Containment” policy is a total joke. What’s the media doing? They’re blaming Clinton, of course.

Bush is choosing to protect his political image at the expense of the safety of all Americans. Since war on the Korean peninsula and its Pentagon estimated one million casualties is political suicide, the solution to the crisis is relatively simple. The North Koreans are demanding public assurances of non-aggression—from Bush himself—before putting their nuclear program on ice. This, unfortunately for the American people, does not fit the carefully crafted political image that Bush has created. A tough, brush clearing, baloney sandwich eating, Texan is just not meant to seem to be backing down from a fight with a charter member of the Axis of Evil, and is certainly not seen to be running away from a “pygmy”. With war not being an option, Bush is reduced to issuing vaguely tough sounding rhetoric. As a result, it is our safety, not Plutonium production, which is being put on ice.

President Bush has his political jugular vein exposed on North Korea, but alas, I see no blood. The Democrats need to start playing hardball. To discredit Bush on national security issues would leave him with only his sage stewardship of the economy to run on in 2004. We could then get someone in the White House with the intestinal fortitude to shut down the North Korean nuclear production line, just like President Clinton did in 1994, and bring back the feeling of a nation secure to the American people.

Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Perhaps oil and oil do have something to do with it.

Sunday, January 5, 2003

Before we get too far along discussing smallpox , I would like to recommend some background reading on the subject.

It is not possible to be scared enough of this virus. In fact, I seriously doubt that any terrorist group would use it because the counter-attack would be far worse than the original attack. As soon as the first cases were reported in say Israel or America, Mossad would be there collecting live virus samples for export to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The quality of health care is quite low in the Occupied Territories and with the virus circulating among the Palestinian population, Israel could shut the gates and let the epidemic spiral out of control. Obviously, the Iraelis would claim, if the virus were spreading there, the virus originated there. The Palestinians that did not die would flee to Jordan or Egypt, spreading the virus further. Israel’s Palestinian problem would be solved, because these people would not be welcome back. Smallpox is an ideal way to take care of troublesome minority populations. Turkey would undoubtedly love to get their hands on some to help with their Kurdish problem. Perhaps it might turn up in Chechnya. The terrorists and Saddam Hussein are familiar with the way people think in this part of the world, we can only hope that they take it into account before launching a biological attack.

Saturday, January 4, 2003

Le Monde has the breakdown on the economic impact of a war against Iraq. Now if only we could get the Amercian media to care.... or is it dare?

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