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Sunday, March 14, 2004

Spain: March Madness

Every now and then, some conspiracy-minded blogger (or commenter) worries that Bush can win the 2004 presidential election thanks to an "October surprise."

After Saddam Hussein was arrested in December, Bush's poll ratings went up for a brief period -- perhaps just enough in a close election to make a meaningful difference. Thus, one worry is that the administration might "find" Osama bin Laden just before the election.

Another concern is that the US might suffer another homeland terrorist attack just before the election, causing nervous voters to "rally 'round" the President.

Well, Spain just had a major terrorist attack, then an election just a few days later -- and the voters unexpectedly ousted the government that had backed Bush in Iraq.

The Washington Post has this on Monday's front page:"Spanish Socialists Oust Party of U.S. War Ally."
Spaniards voted Sunday to remove the party of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar from power, apparently blaming his staunch support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq for the bombing attacks that killed 200 people in Madrid on Thursday.

While opinion polls taken before the bombings had given Aznar's Popular Party a comfortable lead, voters overwhelmingly endorsed candidates from the opposition Socialist Party, whose leader, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has promised to immediately withdraw Spain's 1,300 troops from Iraq, redirect Spain's foreign policy away from the United States and restore good relations with such European allies as France and Germany that had opposed the Iraq war.
The evidence more-and-more suggests the terrorism was the work of al Qaida, and voters appeared to reject the conservative government because it had made Spain a target of terrorists.


After a very long wait, State University of New York Press has published Democratizing Global Politics; Discourse Norms, International Regimes, and Political Community, by Rodger A. Payne and Nayef H. Samhat.

Amazon has it for sale, though as a hardback, it is a bit pricey.

This is from the back cover:
Historically, international institutions have been secretive and not particularly democratic. They have typically excluded almost all interested parties except the representatives of the most powerful nations. Because of this "deficit of democracy" international organizations and regimes have found themselves the target of protest movements and lobbying campaigns. Democratizing Global Politics finds that, in response to this mounting legitimacy crisis, international organizations and regimes are beginning to embrace new norms of participation and transparency, opening the decision-making process to additional political and social actors and creating opportunities for meaningful external scrutiny. Two case studies examine the construction of such "discourse norms" in the Global Environmental Facility and the World Trade Organization. The authors conclude that these normative changes not only legitimize international institutions-they also promote the development of political community on a global scale.
I wish I knew how to include the book cover photo.

So, readers, two technical questions. First, any idea how I can include a photo on a basic blog? Second, completely unrelated to that, anyone know if google changed something that made my search box ineffective? I cannot seem to search my own archives anymore. And that's frustrating.

Update: Hey, someone actually reads this blog! Thanks, Micah, for telling me how to do this:

Friday, March 12, 2004

New Visuals

The Presidential race is heating up early this cycle. President Bush has already made the news twice this past week for his controversial advertisements -- one using images of 9/11 (including actors as firemen) and one featuring an apparent Arab terrorist.

Billmon calls the man in the ads "Muhammad Horton" since the image echoes Bush Senior's famous Willie Horton ad. Actually, Atrios uses this tag too...

In any case, Digby points to a website that has a great archive of presidential ads. View some of the old ones to get a good idea of whether this year's efforts are any better or worse.

I watched several of the 1988 Bush-Dukakis ads (you know, a Bush versus a guy from Massachusetts...and a Bush won) to get a feel for what this year's campaign season might be like.

Check it out.

Oh, speaking of visuals, someone with photoshop has been reworking the President's image. I realize that men and women react differently to the two major parties (the "gender gap" has been real for many elections now), but this is ridiculous. I got the link from Mark Kleiman.

Thursday, March 11, 2004


I've got to go to Lexington this afternoon to give a talk on American primacy and empire. It's for a "Worldview" conference, co-sponsored by the Rotary and University of Kentucky Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce.

President Bush says the US is not pursuing empire:
We have no territorial ambitions, we don't seek an empire. Our nation is committed to freedom for ourselves and for others. We and our allies have fought evil regimes and left in their place self-governing and prosperous nations.

And in every conflict, the character of our nation has been demonstrated in the conduct of the United States military. Where they have served, America's veterans are remembered by civilians with affection, not fear.

One veteran recalls the closing days of the second world war. In the spring of 1945, he said, "around the world, the sight of a 12-man squad of teenage boys armed in uniform brought terror to people's hearts. But there was an exception: a squad of GIs, a sight that brought the biggest smiles you ever saw to people's lips, and joy to their hearts. GIs meant candy and cigarettes, C-rations and freedom." "America," he said, "has sent the best of her young men around the world, not to conquer, but to liberate; not to terrorize, but to help."
I plan to take the President seriously and argue against the idea even of American primacy. The US should work with its allies to resolve common problems, whether they are nuclear proliferation, global terror or global warming.

Apparently, I speak right after Tom Donnelly, a neo-conservative from the American Enterprise Institute. He recently wrote an op-ed piece on American primacy, but part of it is heavily dependent upon a piece written by someone I've known since we both spent a year at Stanford back in 1987-88, Bill Wohlforth.

In any case, Donnelly argues that September 11 awakened a sleeping giant, American primacy contributes to the creation of a durable peace, and coalitions among states are of limited utility. Since the Bush adminstration apparently recognizes these facts, Donnelly reckons this is all good news for democracy (in places like the Middle East) and bad news for China, which has long been a neo-con concern:
Still, the decision to remove Saddam Hussein and to build something more decent and democratic in the regime's place does mark a new, third epoch in the "unipolar era." Moreover, this break has been reinforced by President Bush's recent speeches vowing to "transform" the politics of the greater Middle East and questioning the United States' previous willingness to tolerate a variety of autocratic local allies in the name of narrow "stability" or Cold War, balance-of-power habit. What has begun is the real test of the Pax Americana-the active employment of American power to promulgate liberal political principles and thereby fashion an enduring peace...

This final point seems as obvious today as in 1999; yes, Chinese economic and military strength has continued to grow. And, especially in the particular case of a decapitating strike on Taiwan, the People's Liberation Army can make a U.S. response very challenging. But the overall strategic balance between the United States and China is probably shifting away from Beijing. In a "globalized" world, the distinction between regional and global power is increasingly illusory, making it difficult for Beijing to maintain its own private sphere of influence independent from the overarching Pax Americana.
More on my response when I get back.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Tenet rebuts Cheney

Yesterday, CIA Director George Tenet testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. When responding to questions from some Democratic Senators, Tenet acknowledged that the White House had mischaracterized intelligence evidence about Iraq WMD and/or links to terrorism and that he had privately corrected them.

Jonathan Landay filed the story for Knight-Ridder newspapers.
CIA Director George Tenet on Tuesday rejected recent assertions by Vice President Dick Cheney that Iraq cooperated with the al-Qaida terrorist network and that the administration had proof of an illicit Iraqi biological warfare program....

"I'm not going to sit here and tell you what my interaction was ... and what I did and didn't do, except that you have to have confidence to know that when I believed that somebody was misconstruing intelligence, I said something about it," Tenet said. "I don't stand up publicly and do it."

Tenet admitted to Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee's senior Democrat, that he had told Cheney that the vice president was wrong in saying that two truck trailers recovered in Iraq were "conclusive evidence" that Saddam had a biological weapons program.

Cheney made the assertion in a Jan. 22 interview with National Public Radio.

Tenet said that U.S. intelligence agencies still disagree on the purpose of the trailers. Some analysts believe they were mobile biological-weapons facilities; others think they may have been for making hydrogen gas for weather balloons.
That's good stuff -- though it is kind of late. This has all been public knowledge for some time.

Tenet also shot down the material compiled by Doug Feith, leaked to The Weekly Standard and previously disavowed by the Pentagon:
Levin also questioned Tenet about a Jan. 9 interview with the Rocky Mountain News, in which Cheney cited a November article in the Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine, as "the best source of information" on cooperation between Saddam and al-Qaida.

The article was based on a leaked top-secret memorandum. It purportedly set out evidence, compiled by a special Pentagon intelligence cell, that Saddam was in league with al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. It was written by Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith, the third-highest Pentagon official and a key proponent of the war.

"Did the CIA agree with the contents of the Feith document?" asked Levin.

"Senator, we did not clear the document," replied Tenet. "We did not agree with the way the data was characterized in that document."

Tenet, who pointed out that the Pentagon, too, had disavowed the document, said he learned of the article Monday night, and he planned to speak with Cheney about the CIA's view of the Feith document.
Finally, Landay also brings in the role of Iraqi defectors in fostering intelligence falsehoods:
Adm. Lowell Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the military's main intelligence arm, said that "some" information provided by defectors had checked out, but that they also gave material that was "fabricated or embellished."
Previously, I noted that the Pentagon found major problems with the overwhelming majority of evidence provided by the defectors -- especially on WMD.

Monday, March 08, 2004

Florida: for Kerry?

A recent poll showed John Kerry leading George W. Bush in Florida and a lot of bloggers have been discussing this the past couple of days. Josh Marshall, for instance, says that Bush will likely lose the entire election if he loses Florida, while Kerry can win without it -- by winning Ohio, for example.

The New Yorker has an article that addresses this topic, called "The Cuban Strategy, Can Jeb Bush deliver the Florida vote in November?" by William Finnegan.Finnegan argues that Jeb Bush is very popular among Cubans (and other Latinos), but that his brother might not get the full benefit.

On-line, the New Yorker also has an interesting interview with Finnegan. He was asked: Is Florida up for grabs?
It does seem to be. Jeb Bush won reĆ«lection as governor fairly easily in 2002, but he is popular among a number of groups that aren’t nearly as fond of his brother. Non-Cuban Latinos, for instance, tend in Florida (as elsewhere) to be Democrats. There are more than a million of them in the state—Dominicans, Mexicans, Nicaraguans, and, most numerously, Puerto Ricans. Jeb and his family have a strong cross-party appeal among these folks—Jeb’s wife, Columba, is from a small town in Mexico, and their son, George P., is a talented, attractive campaigner. Then, there’s Jeb’s fluent Spanish. But the war in Iraq has not been popular among these voters. Nor have the President’s tax policies or his economic management. Other groups who have tended to vote for Jeb, such as white veterans in the Panhandle (most of whom are registered Democrats), may vote for Kerry. Meanwhile, traditionally Democratic voters who still feel that the 2000 election was decided unfairly will be strongly motivated to go to the polls this year.

Finally, there are the Cubans, who are unlikely to vote for Kerry in very large numbers but who may not turn out heavily for Bush, either. Any significant incursion made on their support by the Democrats can certainly swing the election—when Bill Clinton got more than thirty per cent of the Cuban vote in 1996, he won Florida. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida, but that gap is narrowing. This election should be close.
The Democratic groups who might be especially motivated include African Americans (many were purged wrongly from voting rolls or intimidated by dubious election-day practices, and Palm Beach residents -- remember the butterfly ballot?). That last link is to a pdf file.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Al-Qaida-Iraq Link Further Debunked

Friday, I found an excellent article by Warren P. Strobel, Jonathan S. Landay and John Walcott of Knight-Ridder that pretty thoroughly debunks the links between Iraq, 9/11 and al Qaida. It is devastating:
Nearly a year after U.S. and British troops invaded Iraq, no evidence has turned up to verify allegations of Saddam's links with al-Qaida, and several key parts of the administration's case have either proved false or seem increasingly doubtful.

Senior U.S. officials now say there never was any evidence that Saddam's secular police state and Osama bin Laden's Islamic terrorism network were in league. At most, there were occasional meetings.

Moreover, the U.S. intelligence community never concluded that those meetings produced an operational relationship, American officials said. That verdict was in a secret report by the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence that was updated in January 2003, on the eve of the war.

"We could find no provable connection between Saddam and al-Qaida," a senior U.S. official acknowledged. He and others spoke on condition of anonymity because the information involved is classified and could prove embarrassing to the White House.
Here's the bottom line, which should be no surprise to regular readers of this blog:
A Knight Ridder review of the Bush administration statements on Iraq's ties to terrorism and what's now known about the classified intelligence has found that administration advocates of a pre-emptive invasion frequently hyped sketchy and sometimes false information to help make their case. On two occasions, they neglected to report information that painted a less sinister picture.
The story goes on to discuss a variety of specific claims made by administration officials that apparently linked Iraq and al Qaida.

Tim Dunlop of The Road To Surfdom used the information in the story to focus on the alleged terror camp at Salman Pak (in Iraq), which has not received much attention lately. Dunlop references his own pre-war blogging that thoroughly discussed the camp and other evidence.

Surely everyone remembers this camp? It is the place in Iraq allegedly hosting the fuselage of a Boeing 707 where Saddam supposedly allowed terrorists to train for potential hijackings.

Of course, Laurie Mylroie and other Iraq war hawks made a big deal about this facility.

Yet, Strobel, Landay and Walcott talked to a lot of senior people in the intelligence community. They were told this: "The U.S. military has found no evidence of such a facility."

The facility didn't exist!

As Dunlop points out, this is a particularly egregious finding, first because DoD still lists the capture of the camp as one of its war accomplishments and second because the current head of the Iraq Survey Group (Charles Duelfer, who took over from David Kay) claimed that he saw the camps when he was a UN weapons inspector. Dunlop points out that no such claim is reported in the UN reports about Iraqi weapons.

The media could play a central role in assuring public accountability. Dunlop notes that someone should ask Duelfer about Salman Pak.

Good idea.

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Private censorship of political speech

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell works against limits on campaign spending and often argues that this is a first amendment issue. Individuals, groups, and candidates ought to be able to spend money to disseminate political views.

What happens if (a) media oligopoly reduces the number of channels for distributing political views; and (b) media corporate policy aligns with one political party or faction in head-to-head conflict with another party?

I'm still in Missouri, and an old friend told me today about Viacom blocking access to Missouri Democrats who wanted to place political ads on billboards!

I found the story on the St. Louis Post Dispatch website:
The Missouri Democratic Party is sparring with one of the state's biggest billboard owners, who rejected the party's plan to erect an anti-Republican message on billboards in predominantly African-American areas in St. Louis and Kansas City.

Viacom Outdoor turned down the Democratic ad, which features the face of an African-American man next to the words, "Missouri Republicans Have A Plan. You Are Not Part Of It."
Like the CBS decision not to broadcast the MoveOn ads during the Super Bowl, this is a large media corporation limiting the dissemination of political speech.

Like the decision by Clear Channel this past week to fire Howard Stern, it also looks like the media corporation is claiming to impose decency standards to cover its censorship:
Carl Folta, a spokesman for Viacom Outdoor, disagreed and called the ad "deceptive" and "not in good taste." Among other things, he said the firm took exception to the use of a black person in the ad.

[Missouri state Democratic Party chairwoman May Scheve] Reardon noted that other local Viacom billboards promote gambling, beer and sex.
I guess skimpy bikini ads for beer are in good taste?

Update: Viacom, of course, owns CBS -- so this corporation seems to be making it very difficult for those from one political party to voice political opinions through its media outlets. Do you suppose Fox is worried about the competition?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Crony Capitalism Opportunity

Oops, I forgot to add the Halliburton angle to the last post.

Yes, the US leads the world in spending cash for land mine de-mining purposes.

Ken Rutherford said today that there are perhaps as many as 100 million land mines in the world. It costs $300 to $1000 to take out a single mine.

Do the math.

That's $30 to $100 billion that needs to be spent de-mining the world.

Increasingly, private corporate entities are moving into the de-mining business.

Suddenly, the US motives look less humanitarian.

Land Mines and Human Security

I presented my talk on "Human Security and American Foreign Policy" this morning about 9:30 am. It went fine, but the real highlight of the day was listening to the story of Ken Rutherford. His talk immediately followed mine and was quite engrossing.

Rutherford lost both of his legs from a land mine in Somalia (where he was doing humanitarian work) and in 1995 he helped co-found the Landmines Survivors Network. The group played a key role in the global campaign to ban landmines because they presented human faces to go along with the statistics.

And the statistics are frightening. Landmines kill far more children after wars than they do soldiers during wars. Over 20,000 people a year are injured by mines and over half of them die from their injuries. More than 90% of the victims from mines are innocent civilians.

Rutherford has traveled all over the world telling his story. On the web, I found a picture of him sitting with Princess Diana, who was a proponent of the Mine Ban Treaty. He knows all the key figures from the campaign and still travels extensively giving talks. Sir Paul McCartney will attend the signing of his new co-edited book in LA in April. Monday, he is speaking to 20 soldiers about to head off to Iraq, who will be engaged in de-mining.

If you don't know much about the Mine Ban Treaty, it was concluded quite quickly in 1997 after years of effort by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy was the central hero of Rutherford's talk, as he took Canadian foreign policy in an unprecedented diplomatic direction.

The US, of course, is one of the key states that is not a party to the treaty (more than 140 states now are) and my paper argued that America's focus on traditional national security conflicts with the Canadian vision of "human security."

On the other hand, the US pays for more de-mining than all of the treaty members combined and hasn't used mines in war for years. Rutherford theorizes that the US refuses to join the treaty because the Pentagon doesn't want international lawyers scutinizing the non-humanitarian effects of its weapons systems.

Rutherford got his PhD from Georgetown University and now teaches at Southwest Missouri State in Springfield. He has written a number of academic articles (including one for the prestigious academic outlet World Politics) and has a couple of edited books on the topic. His own book is apparently about to be picked up by MIT Press.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Good News

I have frequently used this space to complain about things that bother me -- the Bush administration, stupid baseball management decisions, SUVs, etc. The list could go on and on.

As I prepare to head to Missouri to give my "Human Security and American Foreign Policy" paper in the morning, I'll simply use today's short blog entry to congratulate Marc Lynch, a political scientist at
Williams College, who was recently granted tenure! He often reads this space.

Here's the scoop:
Lynch studies the role of deliberation and public spheres in international relations, focusing on the Middle East. His most recent article, “Taking Arabs Seriously” was published in Foreign Affairs, one of the most influential foreign policy journals in the world. Lynch is the author of State Interests and Public Spheres: The International Politics of Jordan’s Identity. Another book, Iraq and the New Arab Public Sphere, is forthcoming. Lynch received his B.A. in political science from Duke University in 1990 and his Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1997.
As a Jayhawk basketball fan, that Duke part is hard to take. Actually, I've noticed in my travels around the country that virtually everyone who likes college hoops hates Duke, whether from UNC or other ACC schools, Kentucky, etc.).

Since I'll be gone for a few days, expect light blogging.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Blogging in the News

Today's front page of my local newspaper, the Louisville Courier Journal, included a fairly long story about political blogging. You can read it on their official webpage.

The writer focuses a great deal of attention on the political blog written by Justin Walker, a Louisvillian who attends Duke University -- and who has been hitting the campaign trail this year. The webpage has a picture of him interviewing Dennis Kucinich.

In other words, the traditional media outlet focused on a blog that is much like the traditional media. Walker's blog seems to be published on the official Duke website and includes reports from all over the country. His most recent entry is from Minnesota (which votes today) and discusses how he spent the day as part of the "official press corps" traveling with the Edwards campaign.

The story includes a sidebar that links to a number of blogs -- including several major ones I read regularly (Atrios, Daily Kos, Josh Marshall, and Calpundit), some I don't (Andrew Sullivan and Instapundit) and the official campaign blogs of the remaining major Democratic candidates (Kerry and Edwards) and Bush.


At least the story briefly mentions the way the Dean campaign was fueled by bloggers, quotes Josh Marshall, and notes the cash Ben Chandler raised from blog ads.

If I were doing a story on blogging, I'd additionally read some smaller blogs to get a feel for the great diversity in the blogosphere.

It might turn out that that some halfway decent ones are local.

Monday, March 01, 2004

Human Security Update

I'm about to go to a conference on Human Security in the New Millennium at the University of Missouri. Note: I've been working hard to finish my paper, which partially explains the light blogging over the past few days (plus it was a beautiful weekend and I rode my new bike a couple of times).

My paper focuses on the apparent US antipathy towards human security -- and the potential implications for the "western security community." Does it matter that long-time friends and allies disagree so fundamentally about threats and solutions to those threats? How does it affect the international normative structure?

Finding: Do a google search for "human security" on the White House webpage. I got ZERO hits. For "national security," I got more than 20,000! Canada, by contrast, has all kinds of human security material on their DFAIT webpage.

A major topic at the conference is likely to be the global movement against land mines. Canada and other states interested in human security point to the Mine Ban Treaty as one of their major successes. Ken Rutherford, a genuine expert on that topic, will be there talking about the movement to ban mines.

While researching for updates on the Mine Ban treaty, I found a recent Washington Post story on the latest Bush administration policy on mines. That link is gone, but the Boston Globe had the same story. The US has now moved ever further away from the world, in some ways, but is trying to frame its position consistent with their concerns:
The new policy, to be announced today, represents a departure from the previous US goal of banning all land mines designed to kill troops. That plan, established by President Bill Clinton, set a target of 2006 for giving up antipersonnel mines, depending on the success of Pentagon efforts to develop alternatives.

Bush, however, has decided to impose no limits on the use of "smart" land mines, which have timing devices to automatically defuse the explosives within hours or days, officials said.
The US plans to use dumb bombs only in South Korea and hasn't used any in war since the first Persian Gulf war in 1991.
A senior State Department official, who disclosed Bush's decision on condition he not be named, said the new policy aims at striking a balance between the Pentagon's desire to retain effective weapons and humanitarian concerns about civilian casualties caused by unexploded bombs, which can remain hidden long after combat ends and battlefields return to peaceful use.

The safety problem stems from dumb bombs, which kill as many as 10,000 civilians a year, the official said. Smart bombs, he added, "are not contributors to this humanitarian crisis."
NGOs, who are also hot on this idea, are not happy about the Bush move:
Bush's decision drew expressions of outrage and surprise from representatives of humanitarian organizations that have pressed for a more comprehensive US ban on land mines. They say the danger to civilians and allied soldiers during and after a war outweighs the benefits of such weapons. They also dispute the contention that unexploded smart mines are safe, saying there isn't enough evidence.

"We expected we wouldn't be pleased by the president's decision, but we hadn't expected a complete rejection of what has been US policy for the past 10 years," said Steve Goose, who heads the arms division of Human Rights Watch.

"It looks like a victory for those in the Pentagon who want to cling to outmoded weapons, and a failure of political leadership on the part of the White House. And it is stunningly at odds with what's happening in the rest of the world, where governments and armies are giving up these weapons."
The US funds more de-mining activing than any other state and the Bush budget calls for a 50% increase in support for it.

Bottom line: the US explicitly rejects the international normative standard (the Mine Ban Treaty), arguing that it needs mines to protect South Korea. But, it embraces the humanitarian claim and funds lots of de-mining.

There are similar human security-related disputes over the ICC, the CTBT, even Kyoto. That's what I'm exploring in my paper.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Political Unrest in the Red States

Apparently, the University of Kentucky Student Government Association has narrowly passed what Beth Wilson, Executive Director of the Kentucky ACLU, called a "strongly worded resolution against the USA PATRIOT Act." That pointer is to the text of the proposed resolution -- not to a story about its passing. I do not know if it was amended. Supposedly the website is going to be updated very soon.

I searched Google News for the "Patriot Act" resolution and learned that similar resolutions are being debated and passed all over the US -- including in many Bush Red states.

Elko County Nevada unanimously passed a resolution opposing any parts of the act that are unconstitutional.

Kansas City's Council voted 11-1 for a resolution that "warns against violating civil liberties and discriminating against racial or ethnic groups in the process."

Dallas County, Texas approved a resolution denouncing the Act. According to the story from the Star-Telegram, 3 states and 225 local governments (I've read that it is actually 250 now) have taken stands against the Act. The Austin City council is apparently one of them, though Austin is a left-leaning island in a sea of conservatism.

The Bill of Rights Defense Committee has a full list, and as of February 25, 2004, the 257 "local resolutions, ordinances and ballot initiatives" cover 44.8 million people. Cleveland Heights, Ohio, is another Red state area that has recently acted on this issue. Page down the list and some areas stand out because of their size (LA, NY, King County, WA, which is where Seattle is located), many college communities, and some typically conservative areas. In addition to the ones I mentioned above, I note Durham, NC, Boise, ID, Dillon, MT, Tucson, AZ, the entire state of Alaska (plus many local areas)...check out the list (pdf file).

The other 2 states are Vermont and Hawaii.

Update: The daily independent student newspaper of the University of Kentucky (the KY Kernel), confirms that the SGA did pass the resolution by a single vote after an hour-long debate.

The Bill of Right Defense Committee has a separate webpage listing student resolutions.

Oh, and the ACLU has an interesting map identifying areas of the country covered by anti-Patriot Act resolutions. Note the large chunks of Wyoming, Idaho and Arizona. Libertarians are not happy.

Friday, February 27, 2004

Kerry on terror

Today, John Kerry outlined his anti-terror plan in a speech out in LA. I guess I was out in front of the candidate yesterday.
I do not fault George Bush for doing too much in the War on Terror; I believe he’s done too little.

Where he’s acted, his doctrine of unilateral preemption has driven away our allies and cost us the support of other nations. Iraq is in disarray, with American troops still bogged down in a deadly guerrilla war with no exit in sight. In Afghanistan, the area outside Kabul is sliding back into the hands of a resurgent Taliban and emboldened warlords.

In other areas, the Administration has done nothing or been too little and too late. The Mideast Peace process disdained for 14 months by the Bush Administration is paralyzed. North Korea and Iran continue their quest for nuclear weapons – weapons which one day could land in the hands of terrorists. And as Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld has admitted, the Administration is still searching for an effective plan to drain the swamps of terrorist recruitment. The President’s budget for the National Endowment for Democracy’s efforts around the world, including the entire Islamic world, is less than three percent of what this Administration gives Halliburton – hardly a way to win the contest of ideas.

Finally, by virtually every measure, we still have a homeland security strategy that falls far short of the vulnerabilities we have and the threats we face.
Kerry's vision is more multilateral and less military than Bush's:
We cannot win the War on Terror through military power alone. If I am President, I will be prepared to use military force to protect our security, our people, and our vital interests.

But the fight requires us to use every tool at our disposal. Not only a strong military – but renewed alliances, vigorous law enforcement, reliable intelligence, and unremitting effort to shut down the flow of terrorist funds.

To do all this, and to do our best, demands that we work with other countries instead of walking alone. For today the agents of terrorism work and lurk in the shadows of 60 nations on every continent. In this entangled world, we need to build real and enduring alliances.

Allies give us more hands in the struggle, but no President would ever let them tie our hands and prevent us from doing what must be done. As President, I will not wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake. But I will not push away those who can and should share the burden.
And like I said yesterday, Kerry's nonproliferation policy emphasizes Nunn-Lugar:
Fourth, because finding and defeating terrorist groups is a long-term effort, we must act immediately to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. I propose to appoint a high-level Presidential envoy empowered to bring other nations together to secure and stop the spread of these weapons. We must develop common standards to make sure dangerous materials and armaments are tracked, accounted for, and secured. Today, parts of Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal are easy prey for those offering cash to scientists and security forces who too often are under-employed and under-paid. If I am President, I will expand the Nunn/Lugar program to buy up and destroy the loose nuclear materials of the former Soviet Union and to ensure that all of Russia’s nuclear weapons and materials are out of the reach of terrorists and off the black market.
I'm not going to reprint the entire speech, but he calls for more police and firefighters, alternative energy (he wants energy independence from the Middle East within a decade), and greater port security. All this is part of improving homeland security, which he says Bush has failed to fund adequately.

Kerry also offered plans for winning the war of ideas -- "we need an international effort to compete with radical Madrassas." The speech details some plans for exactly that.

All in all, it offers a realistic Democratic alternative to all-war, all-the-time.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Is Kerry soft on terror?

Yesterday, I looked at the National Security Blog and discovered a post entitled "ElBaradei's Warning: We Can't Sit Idly By." After running a long quote noting the importance of the threat from nuclear proliferation, the blogger, John Little, then refers readers to a recent quote by John Kerry claiming that the threat of terrorism had been overstated by the Bush administration. Poke around the website and you know Little is not making this contrast because he agrees with Kerry.

Little implies that even UN-types like ElBaradei agree that nuclear proliferation is a great threat, while Kerry disagrees.

This is a misleading argument on many levels.

First, I'm sure ElBaradei and Kerry would agree that the world is not sitting idly by on the proliferation question. Indeed, both would agree that the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and IAEA are important norms and institutions that need to be strengthened. Both support ongoing work by the international community to engage potential proliferants in meaningful dialogue about their programs, inspect their facilities, and disarm them via arms control. Sanctions have been used to great affect against many worrisome states.

This was the pathway used effectively against Iraq and is in various stages in Libya, North Korea and Iran. By contrast, of course, the Bush administration quickly reversed sanctions against Pakistan in fall 2001, imposed because of their nuclear tests in 1998. They wanted Pakistan's help against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and decided the near-term anti-terror policies were more important than the long-term non-proliferation policies.

Moreover, it was the Bush administration who didn't trust the IAEA's March 2003 finding that Iraq had no nuclear weapon. As I noted recently, Cheney basically accused the IAEA of being fools.

All of these decisions are debatable, but it is obviously false to portray one's political opponents as weak on a particular type of threat just because they feel that it might deserve greater or lesser attention. Kerry clearly supports numerous anti-terror and nonproliferation efforts.

Second, Kerry was talking about terrorism and not proliferation per se, which the Bush administration has linked since the "axis of evil" reference in the State of the Union address in January 2002.

Sure, there's a risk that terrorists could obtain nuclear material, and ElBaradei acknowledges that, but Kerry was talking about the threats I was discussing in multiple posts yesterday. Edwards and Dean, for example, explicitly discussed September 11 in response to the same question.

Bush's blurring of these threats conveniently occurred after its policy reversal on Pakistan (and India, I might add). This blurring has not served the US well in Iraq. After all, the administration's hand-picked hawkish arms inspector, David Kay, himself declared the preemption policy DOA. This is the primary new policy option the administration has announced to address proliferation threats. The Iraq war weakened the US posture.

Third, Kerry and other Democrats have been proposing all sorts of policies to fight terror and work against proliferation (like spending a lot more money on Nunn-Lugar to protect former Soviet arms stocks). They oppose the unilateralist and inflammatory policy pursued by the Bush administration.

In other words, Democrats primarily disagree with the administration about the means to fight the war on terror, not so much about the ends. It is absolutely false to try to frame the national security debate as if Democrats don't care about these issues. They do care a great deal, but they often have different tools in mind.

Of course, many Democrats, including Kerry, think the administration has exaggerated the threats to build public support for its "war on terror." It's pretty clear that the threat from Iraq was exaggerated, including the alleged link to al Qaeda.

Numerous people in the national security establishment (the Pentagon, the intelligence agencies, the think tanks) essentially agree with Kerry about the Bush administration's views of many of these threats. Indeed, the Wesley Clark/James Webb view might represent a plurality opinion -- Iraq was a distraction from the real war on terror.

That doesn't mean that everyone doesn't also agree with ElBaradei about the importance of proliferation.

In sum, neither the Kerry position on the war nor his position on terror are inconsistent. Terrorism and proliferation are worrisome, but other issues matter too and the administration has inflated threats (and arguably had political reasons for doing so). Kerry and the Democrats have advanced many worthwhile ideas about strengthening multilateral cooperation and targeting higher priority concerns.

By way of contrast, do the Republicans have careful plans to insure the 40 million who lack health insurance? Do they have an economic idea other than making permanent the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans?

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

More on "the threat"

I'm still pondering the "threat."

Thanks to a faithful reader, I just finished reading a book review by Pat Buchanan at the American Conservative website. While discussing An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terror by David Frum and Richard Perle, Buchanan writes this:
In the worst of terror attacks, we lost 3,000 people. Horrific. But at Antietam Creek, we lost 7,000 in a day’s battle in a nation that was one-ninth as populous. Three thousand men and boys perished every week for 200 weeks of that Civil War. We Americans did not curl up and die. We did not come all this way because we are made of sugar candy.

Germany and Japan suffered 3,000 dead every day in the last two years of World War II, with every city flattened and two blackened by atom bombs. Both came back in a decade. Is al-Qaeda capable of this sort of devastation when they are recruiting such scrub stock as Jose Padilla and the shoe bomber?

In the war we are in, our enemies are weak. That is why they resort to the weapon of the weak—terror. And, as in the Cold War, time is on America’s side. Perseverance and patience are called for, not this panic.
More than one lefty blogger has said this lately, but it feels odd agreeing so openly with Buchanan.

And he has more good stuff:
In 25 years, militant Islam has seized three countries: Iran, Sudan, and Afghanistan. We toppled the Taliban almost without losing a man. Sudan is a failed state. In Iran, a generation has grown up that knows nothing of Savak or the Great Satan but enough about the mullahs to have rejected them in back-to-back landslides. The Iranian Revolution has reached Thermidor. Wherever Islamism takes power, it fails. Like Marxism, it does not work.

Yet, assume it makes a comeback. So what? Taken together, all 22 Arab nations do not have the GDP of Spain. Without oil, their exports are the size of Finland’s. Not one Arab nation can stand up to Israel, let alone the United States.
Buchanan even quotes FDR, approvingly! "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."

Incidentally, the Frum-Perle book is apparently pretty scary -- calling for a sequence of wars with a variety of enemies: North Korea, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran!

Buchanan writes a scathing and intelligent review. He's clearly neither a neo-con nor a progressive internationalist!

Heck, read the entire review.

Are you ready to be scared to death?

I don't usually read the Fox News website, nor do I much admire the political acumen of Dick Morris (famous for helping Clinton with the "triangulation" strategy that pitted the Democratic President against his own fellow party members in Congress).

Nonetheless, I think the latest offering by Morris on Fox is an accurate view of the 2004 presidential race.

The latest Fox poll reveals that President Bush is deadlocked with potential challenger Senator John Kerry 45-45, which Morris says is big trouble for Bush because undecideds often vote against incumbents.

More importantly, Morris points out that the President/Republicans trail Kerry/Democrats on almost every important potential campaign issue: most notably, on the economy, health care, and education. The spreads are not especially close either, ranging from 11 to 21 percent.

The only issues Bush and the Republicans win are fighting terrorism and handling the situation in Iraq. The spreads are 23 and 14 percent on these issues.

Unfortunately for Bush and company, Americans say that the three most important issues in this year's election are the economy, health care (or Medicare) and education. That's a bit misleading because 8 % said homeland secuirty and 6% said terrorism, which adds to 14% and puts it above education as an issue.

In any case, Morris says Bush has been so successful fighting terror that Americans are now (erroneously) "taking safety for granted." As a result, they are free to focus on what are to his mind relatively less important issues like health care and jobs.

To me, this is the dumbest comment in the entire piece:
Americans are wrong to see terrorism as a fourth-place issue. Education or the economy or health care won't knock down buildings and kill 3,000 people. Terrorism will.
This is precisely the view that devastated Democrats in the 2002 midterm congressional elections.

Lack of health care does kill Americans. How many premature deaths result when 43 million people are uninsured and tens of millions more are underinsured? The Institute of Medicine estimates 18,000! TV doesn't have a spectacular fireball to run and rerun, but the consequences for individuals are every bit as cataclysmic. In human terms, that is six September 11 events every year.

Joblessness too can be devastating. I found this evidence on the Applied Research Bulletin webpage of the Canadian government's website, from 1996:
The ARB analysis reviews several studies with different approaches to better understand the impact that unemployment may have on people's physical and mental health and to determine the social costs it entails for individuals and society. Some of the studies seek to assess the psychological impact of unemployment. Others attempt to determine the effects of unemployment-related stress or shock on the incidence of various illnesses or on mortality. These two types of studies are generally based on assessments conducted among laid-off unemployed workers or studies of the unemployed. They show that the unemployed visit doctors much more frequently than workers and are more often admitted to hospital. These studies, however, are not able to establish a systematic relationship between the incidence of use of hospital services and an increase in unemployment.

Studies conducted by Dr. M. Harvey Brenner in the United States, however, are among the few that establish a direct link between unemployment and social pathologies. In the research he conducted for the U.S. Congress in 1984, Brenner estimated the direct relationship between the increase in the U.S. unemployment rate and the occurrence of several social pathologies, including the mortality rate, cardio-vascular or cirrhoses deaths, the homicide and suicide rates, admissions to psychiatric hospitals and arrests and incarcerations. For example, Brenner estimates that a 10 percent increase in the unemployment rate would have the direct effect of increasing the mortality rate by 1.2 percent, the suicide rate by 0.7 percent, and the rate of incarcerations by six percent. Serious studies like Brenner's indicate that social problems are attributable to unemployment.
About 2.4 million people per year die in the US, so a 1.2% increase is 28,800. If one extrapolates, that means a 1% increase in unemployment directly increases mortality by 2,800 people.

Nearly a September 11 for every 1% increase in unemployment.

Morris would have the President emphasize the prospect of WMD terrorism rather than other very real problems of Americans. Expect the President to scare us between now and November:
The more Americans think he has succeeded in mitigating the terrorist threat, the more they vote for Kerry. The more they feel that terrorism is still at our doorstep - as it is - the more they back Bush as the better wartime leader.

The traditional incumbent recipe of claiming success backfires here. Bush must make clear to us all the threats that remain, not try to take credit for the end of the terror danger. He must make the most of what he has yet to achieve, rather than try to sell his successes.

Success extinguishes his mandate. Tasks that remain before us rekindle it.
Morris cites polling data that shows even elevating the threat level affects public opinion on this issue -- so it won't even take an attack for Bush to emphasize this issue.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Progressive Internationalism

Ralph Nader's decision to run for President potentially exposes the Democratic nominee (most likely John Kerry) to political attacks from his left. Today, I'd like to address that problem.

Talk radio, of course, is buzzing about Kerry's anti-war past. Hosts and callers in that right-dominated media malign Kerry on a daily basis for his ties to the anti-war movement. If you don't believe me, just tune into a program for an hour.

In any case, the internet splits much more evenly between left and right. And it is apparent that some 'net writers on the left are worried that John Kerry is a closet super-hawk. A friend of mine (and regular reader) sent me a recent Counterpunch article that links Kerry to "progressive internationalism," and then charges that supporters of this worldview embrace the neo-conservative agenda for American foreign policy. Indeed, Mark Hand says the Democrats are more evil because they are less transparent about their plans:
Kerry and his comrades in the progressive internationalist movement are as gung-ho about U.S. military action as their counterparts in the White House. The only noteworthy difference between the two groups battling for power in Washington is that the neocons are willing to pursue their imperial ambitions in full view of the international community, while the progressive internationalists prefer to keep their imperial agenda hidden behind the cloak of multilateralism.
I think this charge is about as fair as the Fonda/Kerry doctored photo.

To begin, the author's title for Counterpunch is misleading: "Kerry Tells Anti-War Movement to Move On." Given the current context, and the immediate comparison to Bush, those not paying attention might think that the author accuses Kerry of ignoring the current war in Iraq. But to make the "move on" point, Hand quotes Kerry about the Vietnam war:
If those of us who carried the physical and emotional burdens of that conflict can regain perspective and move on, so can those whose involvement was vicarious or who knew nothing of the war other than ideology and legend.
Hand does not want to absolve the US or its veterans for allegedly committing war crimes in Vietnam. Fair enough. We could debate those points.

But I think Hand goes way overboard in his critique of Kerry. Here's what Hand has to say about Kerry's call for the country to "move on" from Vietnam:
"In this one passage, Kerry seeks to justify the millions of people slaughtered by the U.S. military and its surrogates during the twentieth century, suggests that concern about U.S. war crimes in Vietnam is no longer necessary, and dismisses the antiwar movement as the work of know-nothings.
This is ridiculous

Does anyone read "justification" for the war into Kerry's comment? Does Kerry now believe (because of new perspective) that the war was a just cause and that America blew it by failing to "win"? No, of course not. Kerry and Senator John McCain, recall, were leaders in the effort to normalize US relations with Vietnam. And Kerry still talks about the numerous mistakes the US made in Vietnam. Kerry worked for reconciliation and peace, which is what I think he means in calling for the US to "move on."

Moreover, I do not think Kerry is referring to the antiwar movement as "know-nothings." Obviously, the author has literally twisted Kerry's words to make them seem more inflammatory. People who know nothing of the war other than legend or ideology surely includes the very large portion of Americans too young to know much of anything about the war, except what they've learned from an occasional movie. And frankly, there are lots of people who lived through the war experience who are blinded by ideology -- on both the right and the left.

On the right, callers to talk radio say Kerry called Vietnam Vets war criminals. Hand says Kerry wants to "move on" from war crimes investigations. Kerry is taking unfair heat from both sides.

Reconciliation and peace: Move on. That's a meaningful third way.

At the base of Hand's claim about "progressive internationalism" is a document ("The Hyde Park Declaration") Kerry (and numerous other Democrats) signed at the urging of Bill Clinton in 2000. The policy part of the document is called "A New Agenda for the New Decade" and it includes a very short section on "Promoting Peace and Security At Home and Abroad."

If one reads the entire foreign policy section, it is difficult to get upset:
2. Build a Public Consensus Supporting U.S. Global Leadership

The internationalist outlook that served America and the world so well during the second half of the 20th century is under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. As the left has gravitated toward protectionism, many on the right have reverted to "America First" isolationism. This collapse of the old Cold War consensus threatens America's ability to provide international leadership on both the economic and security fronts.

What's needed is a new foreign and security strategy for a new era. Our leaders should articulate a progressive internationalism based on the new realities of the Information Age: globalization, democracy, American pre-eminence, and the rise of a new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral alliances that advance U.S. values and interests.

A strong, technologically superior defense is the foundation for U.S. global leadership. Yet the United States continues to employ defense strategies, military missions, and force structures left over from the Cold War, creating a defense establishment that is ill-prepared to meet new threats to our security. The United States must speed up the "revolution in military affairs" that uses our technological advantage to project force in many different contingencies involving uncertain and rapidly changing security threats -- including terrorism and information warfare. This also means undertaking a systematic overhaul of the military to create a force that is more flexible, integrated, and efficient.

Goals for 2010

A clear national policy with bipartisan support that continues U.S. global leadership, adjusts our alliances to new regional threats to peace and security, promotes the spread of political and economic freedom, and outlines where and how we are willing to use force.

A modernized military equipped to deal with emerging threats to security, such as terrorism, information warfare, weapons of mass destruction, and destabilizing regional conflicts.
Arguably, this pre-September 11 document was much more relevant to the 2000 Gore campaign than it is to the 2004 election. It is noteworthy that Democrats were worried about terrorism and WMD (as are about 90% of Americans) at that early date.

The 2000 document, by the way, has been updated by New Democrats (from the Democratic Leadership Council), and they do, as Hand says, use the phrase progressive internationalism" to describe their foreign policy aspirations. The DLC's website list Kerry as a member of the "New Democrat" coalition, but the DLC had lots of horses in the 2004 Presidential race: John Edwards, Dick Gephardt, Bob Graham, and Joe Lieberman. I'd bet Kerry was at best the third choice of most DLC members.

In any event, it does seem fair to at least consider what the DLC would like a newly elected Democratic president to do in foreign policy. I've cherry-picked a few quotes to highlight some major contrasts with the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration:
By insisting on our right to act unilaterally, by ignoring intelligence assessments that conflicted with his desire to act, and by underestimating the resources needed to accomplish the missions, the president is putting America's battlefield gains in jeopardy. By focusing too much on U.S. military might as its main foreign policy instrument, the administration is abdicating its responsibility to fashion an effective, long-term political and economic strategy for changing the conditions in which Islamic fundamentalism breeds and from which new threats to our national security are most likely to arise. And by pushing ideologically motivated tax cuts and repudiating the nation's hard-won commitment to fiscal discipline, President Bush also is reducing our future capacity to act around the world and weakening American economic leadership and leverage.
Wesley Clark and other Democrats were offering this same critique throughout the campaign.

Here's more:
Instead of mobilizing our friends and isolating our enemies, this administration is isolating the United States from the rest of the world, squandering the good will and alliances built up over decades by successive U.S. leaders. American military strength is at an all-time high but our moral authority around the world is at an all-time low.
Does Hand disagree?

And finally, this:
Progressive internationalism stresses the responsibilities that come with our enormous power: to use force with restraint but not to hesitate to use it when necessary, to show what the Declaration of Independence called "a decent respect for the opinions of mankind," to exercise leadership primarily through persuasion rather than coercion, to reduce human suffering where we can, and to create alliances and international institutions committed to upholding a decent world order.
OK, so the DLC still supports the "Clinton Doctrine" of humanitarian intervention. While I think it has to be carefully crafted, I can imagine using force to stop genocide or other crimes against humanity.

Is this the best the disenfranchised left has to offer?

Bring it on.

Kerry, McCain and the Chickenhawks

Ronald Brownstein's February 16 column in the Los Angeles Times offered some interesting analysis of John Kerry's political acumen.

Brownstein begins with a compelling anecdote:
The year was 1996, and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry was seeking his third term against charismatic Republican Gov. William Weld. In a debate, Weld was hammering Kerry over his opposition to the death penalty, even for cop killers. Kerry silenced the room with his response.

"I know something about killing," Kerry said simply. "I don't like killing. I don't think the state honors life by turning around and killing."

That exchange vividly demonstrated how much Kerry, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, relies on his experience as a Navy combat veteran in Vietnam to define his political identity.
It sounds like Kerry actually learned something from the Michael Dukakis flameout.

Nonetheless, some Vietnam veterans are apparently still angered by Kerry's post-service anti-war stance and congressional testimony. Brownstein, however, quotes Republican Senator John McCain's take on this point: "John Kerry, by virtue of his service in Vietnam, earned the right to oppose the war if he chose to."

My guess is that most of the American electorate (and virtually anyone who might even consider voting for Kerry in November), will agree with McCain.

The oddest element of all this is the attempt to link Kerry to "Hanoi" Jane Fonda by fabricating a photo showing the activists together on a podium at an anti-war rally. Brownstein notes that the two did meet two years before Fonda went to Hanoi, but Kerry quit the anti-war Veterans movement because he thought it was too radical.

Fonda's public relations have been almost completely rehabilitated since her "Hanoi Jane" days. Of course, she has apologized profusely for her trip to Hanoi. During the 1980s, she emerged as a fitness queen. In 1983, 1984 and 1985, Fonda had the top-selling video in the United States (hers was 10th best in 1982). In 1986 and 1987, she had the two top-selling videos in the land. In 1988 and 1989, she had to settle for third. Look at the lists, she was surrounded by big budget Hollywood movies.

Then, in 1991, Fonda married CNN mogul Ted Turner and started showing up annually for Atlanta Braves (self proclaimed as "America's team") post-season baseball games. The left started criticizing her (and former President Jimmy Carter) for doing the "tomahawk chop" during those games.

Fonda and Turner lived in Montana, which is a Red state. She stopped making movies for more than a decade and reportedly became a born-again Christian.

Is this the best they've got?

No wonder Kerry keeps saying, "Bring it on."

Sunday, February 22, 2004

(Foot)Note: Honorary Degree for Rice

I checked out the biography of Dr. Condoleezza Rice on the White House website and learned that she's received a number of honorary degrees:
She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995 and the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003.
Why I am noting this?

Well, on September 13, 2002, the University of Louisville's Board of Trustees agreed to confer an honorary degree on Dr. Rice.

This March 8, Dr. Rice will be speaking in Louisville and will apparently receive this honor, in "Public Service."

As I've repeatedly noted, Dr. Rice often spoke about the "mushroom cloud" fear to justify attacking Iraq. And as regular readers know, that was a red herring.

Last summer, when the false Niger documents became public knowledge, Rice tried to argue that dissent within the intelligence community had been buried in (unread) footnotes.
All that I can tell you is that if there were doubts about the underlying intelligence in the NIE, those doubts were not communicated to the President. The only thing that was there in the NIE was a kind of a standard INR footnote, which is kind of 59 pages away from the bulk of the NIE. That's the only thing that's there. And you have footnotes all the time in CIA -- I mean, in NIEs. So if there was a concern about the underlying intelligence there, the President was unaware of that concern and as was I.
That's pretty clear.

Apparently, however, this claim was not true:
In a National Intelligence Estimate published last October, the intelligence arm of the State Department called "highly dubious" allegations that Iraq was shopping for uranium in Africa. The dissenting view was presented in the main body of the report, not buried in a footnote, sources say.

...doubts lodged by State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, known as INR, have since been validated. It turns out the intelligence was based at least in part on forged documents.

The White House now concedes it was a mistake to include the charge in the president's speech, though it argues it also relied on other intelligence from undisclosed foreign sources.

But National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said the president's use of the uranium allegation was ultimately cleared by the CIA after some changes in wording. And she described State's objection to the allegation as only a "footnote" in the back of the 90-page report.

CIA Director George Tenet did not call it a footnote, however, in a carefully worded statement he released Friday as the scandal heated up.

"We stand fully behind DCI's [director of central intelligence] statement," CIA spokeswoman Michele Neff told WorldNetDaily. "If he doesn't refer to it as a footnote, then it's not a footnote."

It's not clear what part, if any, Rice read. She maintains that both she and Bush were "unaware" of concerns raised by the CIA when it vetted the uranium line in the State of the Union drafts sent to Langley.

However, Tenet says some of his analysts "raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence" with Rice's office, warning her staff against using it in the speech. What's more, Tenet just three months earlier reportedly called Rice's deputy to yank the line from the president's speech in Cincinnati.
Personally, I read both text and footnotes.

As it turns out though, State's views were in an Annex to the NIE:
INR's Alternative View: Iraq's Attempts to Acquire Aluminum Tubes

Some of the specialized but dual-use items being sought are, by all indications, bound for Iraq's missile program. Other cases are ambiguous, such as that of a planned magnet-production line whose suitability for centrifuge operations remains unknown. Some efforts involve non-controlled industrial material and equipment -- including a variety of machine tools -- and are troubling because they would help establish the infrastructure for a renewed nuclear program. But such efforts (which began well before the inspectors departed) are not clearly linked to a nuclear end-use. Finally, the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious.
And yes, I'd probably read that too on something so important.

Update: I didn't thoroughly discuss all the back-and-forth that occurred last summer. Calpundit notes an additional admission by Rice's Deputy (Stephen Hadley) that the Niger line should not have been in the 2003 State of the Union address.

Paul Kerr of the Arms Control Association has the chronology on the Niger story through the beginning of the war in March 2003. The BBC has a timeline that has detail through mid-July.

British officials have long maintained that they had independent (but foreign) sources confirming that Iraq sought uranium in Africa. IAEA officials have requested documentation, but I haven't found any evidence on-line that this has been released.

Update II: A friend sent me a link to a Washington Post story from last summer that has a lot of good detail.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Working Group Publicity

The University of Pittsburgh newspaper, University Times has a nice story concerning the Working Group on Preemptive and Preventive War.

Gordon Mitchell, one of the coordinators of the group, was interviewed for the lengthy story. Here's his comment on the inconsistent logic behind the Bush Doctrine:
I find it curious that the same Bush administration officials who were so quick to discard deterrence in the National Security Strategy [NSS] are now reviving deterrence logic to justify Operation Iraqi Freedom. The NSS said deterrence won’t work against so-called rogue leaders who are allegedly irrational and even insane. Yet now we are hearing that the invasion of Iraq is causing the, quote, “axis of evil” to disarm because the leaders of North Korea, Iran and Libya have made rational and sane calculations that they do not want to be the next target of a U.S. attack.
Oh, and this is pretty damning too:
It is absolutely absurd, for example, that members of Congress who tout their tough-on-terror credentials keep cutting Nunn-Lugar threat-reduction programs — programs that are aimed at increasing the security of fissile material and providing aid, primarily to Russia and the former Soviet republics, to prevent nuclear scientists from those countries from sharing information that could be used to build unconventional weaponry.

An absolutely key anti-terrorism strategy is public diplomacy, since it has the potential to take away terrorists’ most valuable weapon, which is the reservoir of anti-American hatred that fuels terrorist recruitment. This gets back to the coordination theme: An overemphasis on military prevention is likely to undercut the effectiveness of public diplomacy, which may be the most promising long-term tool we have to counter terrorism.
And this gets to the heart of the intelligence problem:
The mainstream intelligence community actually did a decent job. The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate was full of caveats regarding the Iraqi threat of unconventional weapons. The problem came when politicians started stripping those caveats away and relying on sketchy intelligence data provided by Wolfowitz’s boutique. Imagine ignoring the advice of an established investment counselor and instead basing your whole retirement strategy on stock tips you overhear at the bus stop. That’s a real recipe for intelligence breakdown, and it looks like that’s exactly what happened in our government in 1976 and 2003.
Read the entire article, it's good!

It would be great if someone would syndicate all -- or even parts -- of it.

INC Inc.

It has long been known that the intelligence provided by Iraqi defectors, including those associated with the Iraqi National Congress, was mostly bogus.

Now, INC leader Ahmad Chalabi says the INC is willing to take the fall for the bogus intelligence -- effectively getting the White House and the CIA off-the-hook. Consider this statement from yesterday:
Mr Chalabi, by far the most effective anti-Saddam lobbyist in Washington, shrugged off charges that he had deliberately misled US intelligence. "We are heroes in error," he told the Telegraph in Baghdad.

"As far as we're concerned we've been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We're ready to fall on our swords if he wants."
The story points out that the information about the famous mobile bio warfare labs originated from a defector coached by the INC. Ultimately, US intelligence sources didn't figure all this out until after the war -- and after Colin Powell talked about them at the UN Security Council.

On a related note, Chalabi is apparently learning about defense contracting from Dick Cheney. His family members and business associates are doing nicely in the rebuilding of Iraq:
U.S. authorities in Iraq have awarded more than $400 million in contracts to a start-up company that has extensive family and, according to court documents, business ties to Ahmed Chalabi, the Pentagon favorite on the Iraqi Governing Council.

The most recent contract, for $327 million to supply equipment for the Iraqi Armed Forces, was awarded last month and drew an immediate challenge from a losing contester, who said the winning bid was so low that it questions the "credibility" of that bid.
The article, by Knut Royce in Newsday, reports also that another $80 million contract is being used to hire Chalabi guards (the Iraqi Free Congress) -- who may then constitute a private army.

Whenever you read a story about oil field security over 4000 miles of pipeline, keep in mind that Chalabi associates may be responsible for their defense -- thanks to your money.

Note: Thanks to the Dreyfuss Report for some of these links.

Update: Jim Lobe has a good piece on this too -- Thanks to a reader for the pointer.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Humanitarian intervention?

As I've often noted, the 2000 Bush campaign went to great lengths to emphasize that the US should only use force when a US "vital interest" is at stake. Bush openly repudiated the so-called Clinton Doctrine, which was essentially the "promise" (Secretary of State Madeleine Albright hedged on its universality) of US action to stop genocidal acts:
"we can say to the people of the world, whether you live in Africa, or Central Europe, or any other place, if somebody comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background or their religion, and it's within our power to stop it, we will stop it."
Now, of course, with the failure to find WMD in Iraq and the lack of "smoking gun" evidence linking Iraq to al Qaeda, many Republicans are stressing the humanitarian side of the "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

This is just bunk.

Here's Vice President Cheney on "Meet the Press" just a few days before the war started:
MR. RUSSERT: The Los Angeles Times wrote an editorial about the administration and its rationale for war. And let me read it to you and give you a chance to respond: “The Bush administration’s months of attempts to justify quick military action against Iraq have been confusing and unfocused. It kept giving different reasons for invasion. First, it was to disarm Hussein and get him out. Then, as allies got nervous about outside nations deciding ‘regime change,’ the administration for a while rightly stressed disarmament only. Next, the administration was talking about ‘nation-building’ and using Iraq as the cornerstone of creating democracy in the Arab/Muslim world. And that would probably mean U.S. occupation of Iraq for some unspecified time, at open-ended cost. Then, another tactic: The administration tried mightily, and failed, to show a connection between Hussein and the 9/11 perpetrators, Al Qaeda. Had there been real evidence that Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, Americans would have lined up in support of retaliation.”

What do you think is the most important rationale for going to war with Iraq?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: Well, I think I’ve just given it, Tim, in terms of the combination of his development and use of chemical weapons, his development of biological weapons, his pursuit of nuclear weapons.
End of answer.

Russert, as Josh Marshall noted yesterday, went on to ask Cheney about the IAEA's then-fresh declaration that Iraq had no nuclear program. None.

Cheney said the CIA disagreed. Ha! This fails the laugh test. Look at CIA Director Tenet's recent speech about the evidence CIA provided pre-war:
We said Saddam did not have a nuclear weapon and, probably would have been unable to make one until 2007 to 2009.
Then, Cheney said that the IAEA didn't know what they were talking about:
I disagree, yes. And you’ll find the CIA, for example, and other key parts of our intelligence community disagree....We know that based on intelligence that he has been very, very good at hiding these kinds of efforts. He’s had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons. I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong. And I think if you look at the track record of the International Atomic Energy Agency and this kind of issue, especially where Iraq's concerned, they have consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past.
Of course, as Kenneth Pollack points out in the January/February Atlantic, it's actually very hard to hide a significant nuclear program and US intelligence agencies became incredibly dependent upon UN and IAEA inspectors through the 1990s.

The inspectors were the source of the key US intelligence!

This is all important because the President is now saying that everyone -- the Congress, the Clinton administration, the UN Security Council -- believed Iraq had WMD.

That would leave the administration blameless for starting an unprovoked war without a "vital national interest."

But the problem, as anyone can see, is that events changed dramatically from October/November, when the Congress and Security Council acted, to March, when Bush went to war, precisely because of the return of the UN and IAEA inspectors.

By March, the "mushroom cloud" fear was gone. Only the Bush people, who distrusted the inspectors, believed otherwise. Or ignored the evidence.

I'd like to hear some prominent Democrats say this pronto.

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Democratic nomination update

So, how much will support for Kucinich jump now that Dean too has left the race?

Kidding aside, it seems as if something was happening in Wisconsin over the last few days of the campaign making the nomination contest now a 2-man race between John Kerry and John Edwards.

The Zogby poll on election eve had predicted Kerry-Dean-Edwards to finich with these percentages: 47-23-20. That turned out to be significantly off as Kerry got "only" 40%, Edwards finished a strong second with 34%, and Dean trailed with only 18%. Kucinich got 3% and Sharpton 2%.

As in Iowa, a major newspaper (the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) endorsement at the last minute, combined with a good performance in the last debate, may well have influenced some voters to select Edwards. Also, independents (and maybe even Republicans) could have changed the face of the electorate and thereby proved the pollsters wrong.

It's also possible that muddy rumors about Kerry are starting to have an effect on the portion of the voting pool that wants him because of his "electability."

Next Tuesday, voters in Hawaii, Idaho and Utah go to the polls, followed on Super Tuesday, March 2, by California, NY, Ohio, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Edwards win either (or both) of Idaho and Utah, but I've seen no polling data. Figure Kerry to sweep the four New England states on Super Tuesday.

Thus, Edwards must win Georgia, of course, but he also needs to start accumulating delegates if he is to have any hope (however remote) of stopping Kerry. That means he's got to win Ohio plus one other major state.

I mention Ohio because Edwards has been focusing a great deal on lost jobs and the harms of free trade. He's anti-NAFTA, anti-WTO, etc. Apparently, despite the fact that Kerry voted for these accords, he too is starting to talk about their failings.

This is a populist electoral strategy that might play well in the rust belt states that will figure quite prominently in the November election. However, it's not necessarily an issue that will play well in NY (well, maybe upstate) or California or Maryland. I'm not certain about what will play well in Minnesota.

Edwards, like most of the other candidates, has been selling his biography on the campaign trail. It is appealling on some levels: Edwards is the son of a millworker who became the first person in his family to graduate from college -- who then became a trial lawyer fighting corporate America.

With just a little tweaking, Edwards could perhaps spin this into a Washington outsider campaign, since those historically fare well. He has only been in the Senate for four years and has already announced he is not seeking reelection for that seat.

The Bush campaign is already trying to connect Kerry to various special interests, and his long tenure in the Senate makes him "of DC" by default. This might be an appeal that would work in the West next week and in Minnesota the week after.

In sum, the race is narrowing, but it remains interesting. I'm still embracing my prediction from September 12, 2003:
I think Edwards's prospects for a space on the national ticket are going to look much better than they do now by next February.
With all the discussion of a Kerry/Edwards ticket, this prediction is starting to look good.

Indiana Senator Evan Bayh is a more likely choice, according to well-known pundit Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, because the Dems need to pick someone who will help in the rust belt. It's geography vs. political ideas and I think Edwards is proving his mettle on the national campaign trail.

Update: Charlie Rose tonight has Mark Halperin, Political Director of ABC News and Ronald Brownstein of The Los Angeles Times. Both reject Edwards as Veep because they think Kerry will pick someone who can help win a swing state -- but they are focusing completely on geography.

The message Edwards is pushing is perfect for the rust belt swing states and its incredible these political analysts cannot see this. So what if Edwards can't help the Dems win North Carolina? He can help win Ohio, Pennsylvania and perhaps other states.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


How long can the US sustain its occupation of Iraq without seriously threatening American security -- by materially diminishing the US ability to respond to other emergencies and by thoroughly sapping the Army's morale?

As I've blogged before, 16 of the Army's 33 active-duty combat brigades are deployed in Iraq, 5 others are deployed in Europe, Afghanistan and Korea and the other dozen are preparing to replace the deployed troops very soon.

As a result, the US has almost no capability right now to engage in new combat missions should it face an unexpected crisis or threat.

Major conflict in Iraq ended nearly 10 months ago, but the troops remain in Iraq to assure order -- performing constabulary functions and nation-building. Some, obviously, are also engaged in counter-insurgency fighting, but I'm not sure of the precise division of labor.

Fine. I personally value these functions of the US military -- though it would be great if they were better trained to performed these functions, and "socialized" to think that this is expected of them.

I'm not sure that either the Army or the Bush administration is really committed to nation-building tasks. For instance, in January 2003, the Defense Department announced that it was closing the Peacekeeping Institute at its own Army War College (which is effectively the Army's in-house thinktank). It reversed this decision later in the year when many non-governmental organizations and members of Congress complained.

Still, DoD opposition to these sorts of missions is fairly open and long-standing. After all, in November 1996, Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Defense William
Perry famously declared :
I've said before, and I will say it again, the U.S. Army is an Army. It is not a Salvation Army. We're not in the business of providing humanitarian relief.
When Perry repeated those words (as he did frequently), he often offered a set of specific conditions for the use of US troops in humanitarian work:
But under certain conditions the use of our armed forces is appropriate. First, if we face a natural or manmade catastrophe that dwarfs the ability of the normal relief agencies to respond. Second, if the need for relief is urgent and only the military has the ability to jump start the effort. Third, if the response requires resources unique to the military. And fourth, if there is minimal risk to the lives of American troops. In humanitarian operations, we only use force to protect our troops or members of humanitarian agencies helping us.
Perry's views are widely shared in the armed forces. Numerous uniformed leaders have been quoted as saying that their primary mission is fighting wars and that they should not be involved in humanitarian or peace operations if that detracts from their primary mission. In 1996, military analyst/writer Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr. quoted both Colin Powell and General John Shalikashvili (former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) making this exact point in the Clinton era.

And of course, George W. Bush echoed this point as presidential candidate during the 2000 debates:
Your question was deployment. It must be in the national interests, must be in our vital interests whether we ever send troops. The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we're going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined.

I'm concerned that we're overdeployed around the world. See, I think the mission has become somewhat become fuzzy. Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war, and therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often.
Bush often made this point on the campaign trail and I think the military resents the long-term missions they are apparently facing.

The most recent Army Times has an interesting poll that perhaps demonstrates this point. Here's the question:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently told Senators that the present high demand on the military is "very likely a spike." How do you feel?
About 1/4 of respondents said "he's right," while about 2/3 clicked "he's wrong." About 8% responded "I don't know."

These recent results are consistent with results reported in October 2003 by the Washington Post from a Stars and Stripes survey last fall:
A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.

The survey, conducted by the Stars and Stripes newspaper, also recorded about a third of the respondents complaining that their mission lacks clear definition and characterizing the war in Iraq as of little or no value. Fully 40 percent said the jobs they were doing had little or nothing to do with their training.

The findings, drawn from 1,935 questionnaires presented to U.S. service members throughout Iraq, conflict with statements by military commanders and Bush administration officials that portray the deployed troops as high-spirited and generally well-prepared....

In the survey, 34 percent described their morale as low, compared with 27 percent who described it as high and 37 percent who said it was average; 49 percent described their unit's morale as low, while 16 percent called it high.
The Post story acknowledges that the survey was not scientific -- and I suppose it is possible that the respondents reflected the strongest voices of dissent. Those who distributed the "convenience" survey said it was meaningful and Pentagon sources are quoted saying that they take it seriously. The closing line of the story is quite telling -- experts are worried that reservists may decide not to reenlist at "historically high" rates.

Notes: Steven Metz of the Army War College quoted then-Secretary of Defense William J. Perry as telling Congress as early as 1994:
"We're an army, not a Salvation Army."
Apparently, this originally appeared in the NY Times, August 5, 1994.

Second, I'm not sure how seriously we should take Bush's words from the 2000 debates campaign -- he seems to have abandoned a slew of foreign policy promises:
BUSH: Yes, I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say, "This is the way it's got to be. We can help." And maybe it's just our difference in government, the way we view government. I mean, I want to empower people, I don't -- you know, I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do.

I just don't think it's the role of the United States to walk into a country, say, "We do it this way, so should you."
The 2002 NSS isn't quite so humble:
In pursuit of our goals, our first imperative is to clarify what we stand for: the United States must defend liberty and justice because these principles are right and true for all people everywhere. No nation owns these aspirations, and no nation is exempt from them. Fathers and mothers in all societies want their children to be educated and to live free from poverty and violence. No people on earth yearn to be oppressed, aspire to servitude, or eagerly await the midnight knock of the secret police.

America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state; free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women; religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property.
Still, it's very doubtful that the US military has the boots or will for pushing American empire too far.