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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Iraq's Hydra

Did you see the story about the US killing the alleged #2 insurgent/terrorist in Iraq?

Don't make your plans to move to Baghdad just yet.

Via The Left Coaster, Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, September 28, 2005:
But veteran counterterrorism analyst Evan Kohlmann said today there are ample reasons to question whether Abu Azzam was really the No. 2 figure in the Iraqi insurgency. He noted that U.S. officials have made similar claims about a string of purportedly high-ranking terrorist operatives who had been captured or killed in the past, even though these alleged successes made no discernible dent in the intensity of the insurgency.

"If I had a nickel for every No. 2 and No. 3 they’ve arrested or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’d be a millionaire,” says Kohlmann, a New York-based analyst who tracks the Iraq insurgency and who first expressed skepticism about the Azzam claims in a posting on The Counterterrorism Blog.
According to one unnamed official in the story, the dead insurgent was a "money guy," rather than a "brutal killer" as the President apparently said live on TV.

The big problem is that the insurgency seems to pose a herculean problem:
The real question is whether taking any one figure out will really have an appreciable impact on an insurgency that seems to have shown a remarkable resiliency. For nearly two years now, U.S. officials have touted previous arrests or captures, most notably that of toppled leader Saddam Hussein in December 2003, as developments that would cripple the insurgency....

Yet despite the hopes of U.S. military officials, the capture of these figures had little impact on the suicide bombing attacks that have been the signature of Zarqawi’s forces.
I'm tempted to ask, what have these guys been drinking, but virtually no one wants to talk about that.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Shush: Recent whispering about Iran

Via Eric at Wampum
Top-ranking Americans have told equally top-ranking Indians in recent weeks that the US has plans to invade Iran before Bush’s term ends. In 2002, a year before the US invaded Iraq, high-ranking Americans had similarly shared their definitive vision of a post-Saddam Iraq, making it clear that they would change the regime in Baghdad.
Supposedly, that's from the Calcutta Telegraph, September 25, 2005.

At the end of May, I summarized something I often heard at Harvard:
a significant number of security analysts think that the US might well employ a relatively simple airstrike against Iran's nuclear facilities sometime in the next year.
Meanwhile, the guys at Arms Control Wonk quote a "Western, Vienna-based diplomat" saying "The UF6 is crap."

UF6 refers to Iran’s uranium conversion facility (UCF) at Esfahan, "which forms the basis for IC [intelligence community's] judgements about Iran’s proximity to a nuclear weapons capability."

Discuss.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

No direction home

Hey, centrists, perhaps it's time to join the opposition:
"The battle lines are drawn, and there is no middle ground," Bush said. "Either we defeat the terrorists and help the Iraqis build a working democracy, or the terrorists will impose their dark ideology on the Iraqi people and make that country a source of terror and instability to come for decades."

Bush said, "The only way the terrorists can win is if we lose our nerve and abandon the mission. For the security of the American people, that's not going to happen on my watch."
This Washington Post story is filled with similar tough guy quotes from the President.

Where does this leave war critics on the right side of the aisle, like Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel? Stuck in the '60s?
How does it feel
To be on your own
With no direction home
Like a complete unknown
Like a rolling stone?
The Bush administration certainly hasn't listened to the critical voices that know a hell of a lot more than it does about the fuel the US is adding to the fire of the Middle East.

Predictably, the President's tough talk is supposed to be supported by a new "comprehensive strategy to achieve victory in Iraq."

What's next? Napalm?

Wait, they already tried that. The latest plans aren't any more original. Stop me if you've heard this before:
Bush said [Gen. George] Casey [the top U.S. commander in Iraq], told him that U.S. forces would deny insurgents safe haven, train more Iraqi forces to conduct security operations and "focus on hunting down high-value targets like the terrorist Zarqawi."
I guess up to this point, the US hasn't been attempting those things?

Back to Bob:
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud...

You've gone to the finest school all right...
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
And nobody has ever taught you how to live on the street
And now you find out you're gonna have to get used to it...

When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you got no secrets to conceal.
Well, I thought it worked.

Uzbekistan: Good or bad news?

The Bush administration takes a stand -- for human rights (and "Wilsonianism"). From Reuters:
Washington confirmed on Tuesday it would leave an Uzbek airbase Tashkent asked it to quit after the United States criticized Uzbekistan's human rights record.

Daniel Fried, U.S. assistant secretary of state in the bureau of European and Eurasian affairs, came to the Central Asian state amid a worsening of ties between the two countries that cooperated to overthrow Afghanistan's Taliban militia....

Witnesses say 500 protesters were killed by security forces in clashes in the eastern Uzbek town in May. The government puts the death toll at 187, mostly foreign-backed "terrorists."

"Our interests in security and our interests in democracy are indivisible," Fried said after meeting President Islam Karimov.
The AP story added this:
"The United States and Uzbekistan have had a very difficult period in relations complicated by grave concerns regarding the human rights situation and events in Andijan," Fried said.
Ruthless realists (not to mention American "Jacksonians") might not be so pleased by this news. That air base had some military value, if only for its geographical proximity to Afghanistan -- and thus might be needed for future operations. The CIA apparently used it for "renditions."

I guess this Jeffersonian is pleased -- I've been complaining publicly about the US stance towards Uzbekistan since November 2003.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Crisis of Global Governance?

Professor John Ikenberry of American Abroad has written an excellent post on the "Crisis of Global Governance." After outlining a litany of recent institutional failings -- the unsuccessful efforts to reform and modernize the UN, the collapse of the EU constitutional process, and the weakening of various other institutions, rules and norms (including NATO, the NPT and WTO) -- Ikenberry asks:
where are the vibrant and growing global and regional institutions that are in place to help us collectively tackle the great problems of our age?
And:
Are we in an era where the demand for cooperative mechanisms and institutionalized collective action is growing but its supply is dwindling?
Ikenberry posits a lot of possible answers, but he certainly believes this is a central issue for the future of world politics:
it is all too clear that something is very wrong, big time, with the current system of governance. Looking into the future – with the growing complexities and dangers associated with continued globalization of economies, societies, and cultures and the privatization of technologies of violence – it is all too clear that the world will need more not less institutionalized cooperation. If we are in an age of declining institutionalized cooperation, well, ergo – we do have a growing problem or, yes, crisis.
Ikenberry suggests that America may be largely to blame for this crisis (though he addresses the neo-utilitarian concern with "hegemonic stability"):
a lot of it may have to do with shifts in American policy....today, the U.S. just doesn’t have an interest or inclination to sponsor, support, fund, and enforce global rules and institutions.
Some of my own scholarship has placed blame for the "crisis" on the US as well. However, my concern was primarily ideational, rather than material.

In May 2001, I wrote a short piece asking, "Is an Outlaw State Calling the Shots?" During the late Clinton administration, the US staked out selfish positions to justify its rejection of the Land Mine Ban Treaty, Kyoto, the CTBT (in the Senate anyway) and the ICC.
As a scholar sympathetic to the ongoing social constructivist "turn" in international studies, I view these real-world policy actions by the U.S. as quite troubling. Constructivists claim that a given norm reflects the international community’s shared understanding of "legitimate social purpose." Thus, logically, if an important member state refuses to commit to various agreements and perhaps even considers them inappropriate, this dissent indicates norms that do not reflect widely shared understandings.
Ultimately, I rejected the material realist explanation:
realists remain hard-pressed to explain the creation and wide acceptance of numerous international norms that generally do not serve the narrow interests of powerful states.
Generally, the US claims to share the ideals expressed in these agreements -- it just disagrees with specific provisions in the negotiated outcome. Plus, Kyoto , the ICC and the Mine Ban Treaty have had some success even without full US participation.

Ikenberry also discusses an ideational problem near-and-dear to my scholarship:
it might be that there is a crisis of governance driven by a more complex problem associated with the inability to infuse international regimes and institutions with democratic accountability and legitimacy.
In Democratizing Global Politics, Nayef Samhat and I explore the implications of the so-called "deficit of democracy" plaguing far too many international institutions and regimes. We conclude that burgeoning "discourse" norms requiring more extensive participation and transparency in these institutions can promote their legitimacy.

My "Outlaw" piece also favored discursive solutions to the global crisis:
[The] challenge is to convince American representatives of a shared international interest in normative ideals. Unfortunately, as current experience reveals, persuasion, social learning, and other consensual mechanisms of change can often fail to garner agreement.

Conceivably, norm-builders could borrow creative ideas from the policy-relevant toolkit employed by conflict resolution practitioners. These experts have long grappled with the problem of crafting consensus in the face of intransigent power and self-interest. Parties to disputes must be encouraged to engage in open dialogue in order to reveal and discuss their basic needs and concerns. Ultimately, the most important problems are dissected so that workable solutions might be mutually constructed. In practice, international negotiations would be supplemented with informal exchanges where powerful actors would find the veracity of their arguments challenged by other members of the global community. Could selfish U.S. claims withstand such close, discursive scrutiny? I doubt it.
Obviously, I don't have time to write a more complete answer, and by no means is dialogue a complete answer to the problems at hand, but I do believe that transnational public spheres can promote democracy and public accountability in world politics.

In turn, more democracy and public accountability should help resolve the crisis in global governance.

This doesn't mean a "second superpower" can simply balance American material clout, but it might mean that those seeking to build and promote international institutions and regimes can work effectively to create the circumstances allowing a fair hearing for their persuasive arguments.

If this were a class, I'd assign some homework: What does it mean if the Pentagon (the domestic player most responsible for US rejection of the ICC and Mine Ban Treaty) accepts the idea that global warming is a serious national security threat?

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Anti-war update

The Washington Post noted today, almost in passing, that 100,000 anti-war protesters are expected on the Mall this weekend. It will likely be the largest anti-war protests since mid-February 2003, when millions of people worldwide took to the streets in opposition to a war that had not yet started.

Since then, the war has become increasingly unpopular -- most Americans now say that it was a mistake and only about 20% are confident that the US will win the war.

Over 1900 US troops have been killed in Iraq and the numbers continue to increase by more than two soldiers per day, on average.

Meanwhile, the voices of the radical right seem to think that only the radical left questions the war. However, one-third of Americans say they don't understand the war's purpose.

For the most up-to-date information about the war's progress, or lack of progress, check out the regularly updated "Iraq Index" on the Brookings Institution website.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Jets and hurricanes

Peter N. Spotts in the Christian Science Monitor, "Hurricanes are packing more punch":
Around the world, powerful hurricanes - rated Category 4 or 5 - have become more frequent compared with 30 years ago....

Two studies by researchers in the past two months, using slightly different approaches, have reported a noticeable increase in storm strength and in the share of strong storms a season experiences.

One group finds that over the past 35 years, the number of Category 4 and 5 storms has nearly doubled worldwide. In the 1970s, roughly 10 of these catastrophic-level storms occurred each season. Since 1990, the number is up to 18 a season, according to Peter Webster, a Georgia Institute of Technology atmospheric scientist who led the study team.

...The work follows on the heels of a study published in August noting a significant increase in the power of storms since the mid-1970s. This power index shows a near doubling of storms' destructive potential during the past 30 to 40 years, according to Kerry Emanuel, who specialized in tropical meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. The change reflects a combination of more-powerful storms and storms retaining their peak intensity longer than in the past.
As I noted during last year's hurricane season, scientists increasingly tie higher intensity hurricanes to global warming. The BBC recently had a story on this.

Did you know that air traffic is becoming a serious source of greenhouse gas emissions? NRDC's "onearth" published a provocative piece by Jeff Greenwald in Winter 2005:
Carbon dioxide and water vapor make up the bulk of airplane emissions. According to the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Management, a consulting company that advises businesses and governments on strategies to mitigate climate change, an average commercial flight in the United States releases nearly 1,800 pounds of greenhouse gas, per passenger, into the atmosphere. This seems like an impossibly large number, since a commercial airplane carries only some 10,000 pounds of fuel. But when those exhaust molecules mix with oxygen, the impact soars. To put it another way, a Boeing 747 traveling from New York to London and back exhales some 440 tons of carbon dioxide -- roughly equal to what 80 SUVs cough up during a year of rush-hour driving.
Wow.

So consider this:
In the early 1990s, contrails were responsible for less than 1 percent of global warming, and aircraft emissions overall contributed 4 percent. By 2050, the effect of contrails will have increased sixfold, and air travel will be responsible for about 17 percent of global warming.
As Johnny Carson used to say, "I did not know that."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Can you tell the players with a scorecard?

Have you noticed this very odd story (from CNN)?:
The [Iraqi] official [speaking to CNN on the condition of anonymity] said two unknown gunmen in full Arabic dress began firing on civilians in central Basra, wounding several, including a traffic police officer. There were no fatalities, the official said.

The two gunmen fled the scene but were captured and taken in for questioning, admitting they were British marines carrying out a "special security task," the official said.
Within three hours, British forces rescued these marines in dramatic fashion, crashing an armored vehicle (escorted by a tank) into the Basra jail!

After confirming that his country's marines were freed, British Defense Ministry Secretary John Reid said
British forces "remain committed to helping the Iraqi government for as long as they judge that a coalition presence is necessary to provide security.
Hmmm.

The BBC is reporting that insurgents have infiltrated the Iraqi police and that the British troops were being turned over to a Shiite militia group.

AFP says the troops were rescued from a house after they had already been transferred there from the jail. The British Army is apparently selling that story. Whatever the case, the jail was stormed first. The AFP article says the captured troops "appeared to be working undercover and...were dressed in Arab clothes and driving a civilian car." They "were detained after opening fire on a police patrol."

Some Iraqis are sticking to the original story, as reported by CNN. BBC:
[Iraqi Interior Minister] Baqir Solagh Jabr told BBC News the men never left police custody or the prison building in Basra and were not handed to militants.

He said the British army acted on "rumour" when it stormed the prison looking for them.
Double hmmmmmm. Someone has this wrong.

Meanwhile, in Basra, hundreds of Iraqis are conducting an anti-British protest outside the police headquarters. Some banners equate the British soldiers with terrorists.


Discussion question: If the Brits are going to pretend to be in the militia and the militia forces are going to pretend to be the police -- then who gets to pretend to be the Brits?


Note: I originally tried to post this around midnight on the 20th, but blogger let me down. So this is slightly updated on the morning of the 21st.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Timeout

It's been a busy day.

I started today at an early coffee reception for Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN), co-hosted by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). I shook both their hands and questioned Lugar briefly about Iraq. He said something non-committal about civil war and then changed the subject to Nunn-Lugar. I can't say that I blame him; maybe he didn't have anything nice to say about Iraq.

In his talk, Lugar discussed US education, loss of manufacturing jobs, the growing "engineer gap" between the US and China/India, and the need to think about these points as foreign policy and/or security issues.

It was like listening to Robert Reich channel Ike after Sputnik.

Since I met Chuck Hagel earlier this year, I've decided I might work my way through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Hagel, by the way, seemed more personable -- and Lugar is shorter than I thought he would be.

Much of the rest of the day was spent dealing with a stolen credit card. Someone broke into our house last Friday afternoon, but my wife and daughter came home and the individual ran away in surprise. We didn't learn of the missing credit card until today, when the bank phoned to inquire about the odd string of purchases. Ugh.

Finally, this afternoon, we went to pick up the two 9-week old Lab/mutt puppies the family adopted on Saturday. The male (Darrowby, or Roby) and the female (Paddington, or Paddy/Patty) had to be "fixed" Sunday before we could take them from the Humane Society. They're cute and fun. So far.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Iran update: prolif issue won't go to UNSC soon

Vladimir Putin, as quoted by the Washington Post today:
"We, of course, are against Iran becoming a nuclear power,"
Russia is helping Iran build a civilian nuclear plant, so one might think that Putin sees the Iranian bomb issue a bit differently than does Washington.

True enough. Russia simply isn't interested in sending the Iran case from the IAEA to the UN Security Council:
"The potential of diplomatic solutions to all these issues is far from exhausted," Putin said at a joint appearance with Bush in the East Room a day after meeting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. "And we will undertake all steps necessary to settle all these problems and issues, not aggravate them. . . . We do not want our careless actions to lead to the development of events along the North Korean variant."
The Post reported that the US had been thinking of seeking this move as early as Monday, but that won't happen now. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called for additional diplomacy today (from the BBC):
Condoleezza Rice told the General Assembly at the beginning of its session on Saturday that the UN Security Council must deal effectively with Iran.

"Iran should return to negotiations with the EU3 [the UK, France and Germany] and abandon forever its plans for a nuclear weapons capability," she said.

"When diplomacy has been exhausted, the Security Council must become involved."
Note that China, another permanent veto-wielding member of the UNSC, apparently isn't interested in sending the matter to the Security Council any time soon either. The Post says that President Hu Jintao apparently declined to support such a move during a meeting with Bush in NY earlier this week.

China, of course, has previously blocked Security Council action against North Korea. Earlier this week, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf confirmed that the A.Q. Khan blackmarket proliferation network had sent lots of illicit nuclear technology to North Korea. Musharraf said that he didn't know if the "father" of the Pakistani bomb had given the design for a weapon to Iran, as he had to Libya and North Korea.

It doesn't sound good.

Meanwhile, Iran's leadership is aggressive on the issue of its nuclear program. The BBC:
Iran has an "inalienable right" to produce nuclear energy, the country's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has told the United Nations.
Let's hope the US intelligence is right this time -- and that Iran still needs a decade to get the bomb.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Goodfellas

My former college debate partner often quoted Bill Murray's character John Winger from the movie "Stripes":
WINGER: Fair??!! Who cares about fair??!! The world isn't fair! ... Is it fair that you were born like this?! No! They're not expecting somebody like you in there. ... You're different! You're weird! You're a mutant! You're a killer! You're a trained killer!
Of course, my old colleague was talking about people highly skilled at making devastating arguments...

You might like this page if you're interested in that sort of thing.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Litmus testes

Yesterday, I gave a talk on Iraq at the Metro Democratic Club of Louisville. Ken Stammerman, a former career US foreign service officer with extensive Middle East background, shared the microphone with me.



Ken kicked off the evening by talking about Iraq's history and the backstory behind America's most recent involvement. He covered the creation of the Iraqi state, the various political regimes, Saddam Hussein's rise to power, the Iran-Iraq war, the Persian Gulf war, and the UN sanctions regime in the 1990s.

I then answered these two questions, as requested by the organizer (complete with the short versions of my answers):

1. Q: Why did the US go to war?
A: Because we could. Because it was there. Because we thought it would be easy. Not to be flippant, but I think the administration (or at least the hawks in the Pentagon and in Cheney's office) thought that Iraq would provide a quick victory in the "war on terror," thus creating momentum for US policy and help put the squeeze on Iran.

WMD and terrorism were the stated rationales, but those aren't rally holding up. Al Qaeda had no "collaborative relationship" with Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz told an interviewer that the criminal mistreatment of the Iraqi people was not a sufficient reason to fight. Oil probably had something to do with it, at least behind the scenes, as did tactical concerns -- such as the desire to remove US troops from Saudi Arabia.
2. Q: How has the war gone?
A: Not well. Polls reveal that a majority of the population think the war was "a mistake." However, in truth, the Bush administration committed one error after another.

They botched the pre-war diplomacy at the UN; they screwed up the WMD intelligence; they failed to deploy enough troops to provide post-war security; they ignored the State Department's "Future of Iraq" project, which included some excellent planning; they disbanded the Iraqi army and thus helped create an angry, armed and unemployed base of insurgents; they completely misjudged the economic costs of the war; and they have failed to engage the Sunni Muslems in Iraq.
Ken then presented the basic options from this point forward: stay the course; quick withdrawal; phased withdrawal; or escalation.

He was really worried about creating a failed state and the prospect of civil war.

Ken then handed me the microphone and I spoke to the group as Democrats: In 1960, JFK won an election by making everyone believe that the Eisenhower administration had been soft on defense. Sputnik and the "missile gap" played a key role in this. Since Vietnam, however, Republicans have turned the tables and made Democrats out to be weak, anti-military, anti-war and practically un-American.

A Republican Vietnam veteran like Senator Chuck Hagel can safely (for his political career and presidential aspirations) say that the US is losing in Iraq, cannot hope to win by escalating troops (because it's too late), and thus needs to get out of Iraq ASAP.

Could a Democrat say these things? Or are Democrats left to follow as Hagel leads a political parade?

I suggested that Democrats need to present a very serious national security posture to the electorate. In all likelihood, the Republicans are going to announce some targets for phased withdrawal before the 2004 mid-term congressional elections and will manage to get some troops home. Thus, the Dems have to take that into account as they prep for the next election cycles.

John Kerry tried to argue that he would be a more competent leader in the war on terror, but not enough Americans believed him. Sad as Katrina was, the storm did reveal that the Republicans in charge of the federal government weren't especially prepared for a disaster.

So, what to do? Talk (and think) seriously about how resources should be spent on genuine homeland security. Bring up Osama bin Laden and come up with a plan to find him and mitigate the threat from al Qaeda. Think creatively about what the US should do after Iraq, that doesn't necessarily involve substantial new military budgets or a new war.

If they want to win back the Congress and the White House, Democrats have to pass the national security litmus test. They've got to have cojones exhibit some chutzpah.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Terrorism: State sponsor update

For more than 25 years, the State Department has been required to list all state sponsors of terrorism because such a designation precludes the US from providing foreign aid and exporting arms. Here's the latest list:
Country and Designation Date

Cuba, March 1, 1982
Iran, January 19, 1984
Libya, December 29, 1979
North Korea, January 20, 1988
Sudan, August 12, 1993
Syria, December 29, 1979
On October 20, 2004, Iraq was formally removed from this list. Since May 2003, the President had made terror-related sanctions inapplicable to Iraq, under authority granted by Congress.

Iraq, of course, was previously removed from this list in February 1982, when the Reagan administration wanted to provide aid and trade credits during its war with Iraq, and was re-designated only after its invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. During that period, experts say that Iraq continued to sponsor terrorism.

In 2005, the State Department stopped publishing its annual report Patterns of Global Terrorism, claiming that the new National Counterterrorism Center will be publishing most of the same data. The NCTC's first report, however, is simply a chronology of 2004 incidents of terrorism.

After a bit of digging, I found the latest information about state-sponsorship of terrorism on the State Department's webpage. On April 27, 2005, Philip Zelikow, Counselor of the Department, and John Brennan, interim Director of NCTC, briefed the assembled media "on the State Department Country Reports on Terrorism, and the statistical reports...prepared by the National Counterterrorism Center."

Country Reports on Terrorism is apparently the new State document that will replace the old Patterns annual report. The new report has a section on State Sponsors:
These countries provide a critical foundation for terrorist groups. Without state sponsors, terrorist groups would have a much more difficult time obtaining the funds, weapons, materials, and secure areas they require to plan and conduct operations. Most worrisome is that these countries also have the capabilities to manufacture weapons of mass destruction and other destabilizing technologies that could fall into the hands of terrorists.
We've heard all that before. US grievances about state sponsorship apparently haven't changed much.

However, State is claiming some US victories in the "war on terror." This is from Zelikow in the April briefing:
2004 was also marked by progress in decreasing the threat from states that sponsor terrorism – state-sponsored terrorism. Iraq's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism was formally rescinded in October 2004. Though they are still on the list, Libya and Sudan took significant steps to cooperate in the global war on terrorism.
Libya cooperated in the elimination of its WMD programs and resolved some old terror attacks by turning over suspects and paying reparations. Syria has taken some anti-al Qaeda measures, worked to close its open border with Iraq, and, oh by the way, "has not been implicated directly in an act of terrorism since 1986."

Before getting too excited by that last sentence, keep in mind that the 2000 report, released in April 2001 (about 20 weeks before the 9/11 attacks), concluded that "The [Iraqi] regime has not attempted an anti-Western terrorist attack since its failed plot to assassinate former President Bush in 1993 in Kuwait." Within two years, the US invaded Iraq, citing its sponsorship of terrorism.

Iran is now the state of greatest concern:
Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism in 2004. Its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Ministry of Intelligence and Security were involved in the planning and support of terrorist acts and continued to exhort a variety of groups to use terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Iran continued to be unwilling to bring to justice senior al-Qa’ida members it detained in 2003. Iran has refused to identify publicly these senior members in its custody on “security grounds.” Iran has also resisted numerous calls to transfer custody of its al-Qa’ida detainees to their countries of origin or third countries for interrogation and/or trial.
The cited examples of state sponsorship all involve Iranian support for anti-Israeli terrorists, though the document references "reports" that Iraq may be sponsoring insurgent activity in Iraq.

On the bright side, NCTC's Brennan recognizes that focusing on state sponsorship of terror is a dated approach. The statute requiring the gathering of all this information references "international terrorism," but that's a misleading phrase as Brennan explained in the April briefing:
These criteria dated to a period of focus on state-sponsored terrorism in the early 1980s and not the transnational phenomena we confront now...."International" is also defined in the statute as "involving the citizens or territory of more than one country." And as I'll show you on the next chart, this definition, while appropriate for state-sponsored terrorism, is simply not as useful for the current trans-national threat we now face.
Maybe Brennan will be able to convince the Bush administration!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Happy Anniversary to this blog

This blog is two years old -- plus almost 10 days. Memory is fallable and until I just checked, the date September 13, 2003, stuck in my mind. However, it was actually September 3.

Regular readers know that I am periodically interested in these questions I mentioned together on January 2, 2004:
1. Where is Osama?

2. Who sent the anthrax?

3. Who leaked Valerie Plame's CIA identity to Robert Novak?

4. What is the White House hiding about Saudi Arabia and 9/11?
If you go to the January 2004 post, I've included some links that help make sense of those questions.

Some interesting material about question number 3 came out this summer...but now we wait to see if anything comes of it. It seems safe to say, however, that Karl Rove and Lewis Libby talked to reporters about Valerie Plame.

Hardly anyone talks about Osama bin Laden or the anthrax anymore.

And I haven't heard a really good Saudi Arabia rumor since "Fahrenheit 9/11" came out during the summer of '04.

Thank you, readers, for stopping by -- though I wish there were more of you. These days, I get about 50 visits per day (more during the weekdays). I don't know how many people might read at least portions of the blog on their RSS readers. This July, I had almost as many readers as I did last October (my pre-election peak of almost 90 visits per day).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Another Bush foreign policy whistleblower

In his new book, Richard Haass, veteran of both the Bush I and Bush II administrations, arrives at this conclusion about the Iraq War:
"What matters in business as well as in foreign policy is the balance or relationship between costs and benefits. It is this assessment that leads to the judgment that the war against Iraq was unwarranted. The direct costs to the United States … were and are simply too high, given what was at stake."
This passage was quoted by Anatol Lieven in his review of Haass's book (The American Prospect, August 2005).

As Lieven points out, Haass has been President of the Council on Foreign Relations since 2003, so his views might be a sign of a shift in the "conventional wisdom" among American foreign policy elites -- especially in the corridor between Boston and Washington.

Haass isn't excited about the current democratization agenda either:
In Haass’ words, while spreading democracy should remain a U.S. goal, "it is, however, neither desirable nor practical to make democracy promotion a foreign policy doctrine. Too many pressing threats in which the lives of millions hang in the balance … will not be solved by the emergence of democracy. … When it comes to relations with Russia or China, other national-security interests must normally take precedence over concerns about how they choose to govern themselves."
Lieven calls these and other views "quite radical stuff by establishment standards." They are radical largely because they reject the current administration's views; thus, readers might not realize that Haass was once a "made man" in the Bush foreign policy mafia.

In Bush I, from 1989-1993, Haass was Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council. In 1991, Haass was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal for his contributions to the development and articulation of U.S. policy during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He wrote a book about his first-hand experience, The Reluctant Sheriff: The United States after the Cold War.The ideas in that 1998 book, in fact, justify the current Bush's vision of multilateralism:
Haass suggests that the United States will often need to assume the role of global sheriff, forging coalitions or posses of states and others for specific tasks.
The powerful US sheriff can round up a willing posse ("coalition of the willing") whenever there is trouble in world order.

In Bush II, Haass served until June 2003 as Director of Policy Planning for the Department of State, where he was a principal advisor to Secretary of State Colin Powell. Haass, in other words, held the important seat once held by George Kennan, as the leader of State's "internal think tank." And like Kennan "vis-à-vis" the Soviet Union, Haass now favors a long-term, patient strategy that might bring "regime evolution," rather than "regime change" to unfriendly and non-democratic states.

November 23, 2003, as I previously noted, Haass wrote on op-ed for The Washington Post explaining that the latest Iraq invasion was a "war of choice," not of necessity. At the time, Haass was nervous because 400 American lives had been lost and $100 billion had been spent.

Apparently, Haass has now decided that it was a poor choice.

Better late than never.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Big "gummit" is back

Pass the word: the era of big government is back!

After 9/11, the Bush White House lept into action and the foreign policy team had a lot of on-the-shelf ideas that they could implement without too much trouble. Presidents have more power over foreign policy than they do over domestic affairs, and 9/ll provided a near-perfect justification for their policy prescriptions.

This is accurate whether you want to emphasize the role of the embedded neocons (Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz) or the hard-line nationalists (Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney). Both groups were well-represented in the "Vulcans" who surrounded Bush in his 2000 campaign and in the out-of-power think tank, Project for a New American Century. They also largely agreed about the need for the US to pursue unilateralist primacy in world politics.

Rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina, however, poses a huge problem for Bush and his followers. It's a domestic problem, not a foreign policy problem. The answers invite the return of "big government," and even if Bush-friendly corporations like Halliburton are rewarded, there's likely going to be substantial scrutiny of money spent after this domestic catastrophe.

The sums are enormous, with Congress already appropriating $62 billion -- the recovery effort means $2 billion spent daily!

The Los Angeles Times reporters Peter G. Gosselin and Janet Hook describe the obvious dilemma for Bush-backers:
President Bush, who came to office pledging to complete the Reagan revolution against big government, is set to preside over one of the biggest government undertakings in recent U.S. history — the reconstruction of the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast.

In doing so, the president is turning to many of the New Deal and Great Society programs that he long criticized as too costly and a threat to Americans' sense of self-reliance.

The size of the administration's relief and recovery plan alone threatens to swamp much of what had been Bush's second-term agenda — making previously approved tax cuts permanent, introducing personal investments to Social Security and advancing other "ownership society" programs.
I like this quote:
"This is the mother of all government reconstruction programs," said Allen Schick, an authority on the federal budget who teaches at the University of Maryland.
Kind of harkens back to the first Bush (Senior) administration, eh?

Libertarians are especially upset at the turn of events:
"The president's plan is a big change from what has been the traditional federal role in disasters," said William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank that advocates small government.

"The effect is going to be to indefinitely defer things he's wanted to do, like Social Security [restructuring]," Niskanen said. "And I don't think there's any possibility of eliminating the estate tax"

...administration actions have left some Bush supporters with a sense of political vertigo as the president and his chief aides appear to embrace positions they were sharply critical of a few weeks ago.

"It bothers me enormously how we've responded to this problem. This is just way out of bounds," Niskanen said.
Then again, libertarians have never been happy with this administration.

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Orleans diaspora and International Norms

Under international law, the dispersed former citizens of New Orleans are now "internally displaced persons" (IDPs). Refugees, by contrast, are people who cross national borders when they flee their homes.

Readers may recall that the University of Louisville awarded its 2005 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order to Roberta Cohen and Francis Deng for their efforts to develop Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. These principles
were presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights by the Representative [of the Secretary-General] in 1998.

The UN Commission and the General Assembly in unanimously adopted resolutions have taken note of the Principles, welcomed their use, and encouraged UN agencies, regional organizations, and NGOs to disseminate and apply them. Individual governments have begun to incorporate them in national policies and laws, international organizations and regional bodies have welcomed and endorsed them, and some national courts have begun to refer to them as relevant restatements of existing international law.
So what do these Guidelines say (also here) and how are they relevant to New Orleans? Here's one that caught my eye:
Principle 3

National authorities have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction.
Not to play the "blame game," but did you notice that it doesn't say "state and local"?

Several of the principles make clear that displacement should be a last resort and that even in the case of natural disaster, people should only be made to leave their homes when "the safety and health of those affected requires their evacuation" (Principle 6). Clearly, some homes in the area were not flooded and some might argue that total evacuation of the region was not necessary. Caveat: I do not know the condition of gas and power lines in those areas. I only know that there are residents quite reluctant to leave even now who do not feel threatened.

Principle 7 includes these provisions pertinent to natural disaster cases:
(b) Adequate measures shall be taken to guarantee to those to be displaced full information on the reasons and procedures for their displacement and, where applicable, on compensation and relocation;

(c) The free and informed consent of those to be displaced shall be sought;

(d) The authorities concerned shall endeavour to involve those affected, particularly women, in the planning and management of their relocation;

(f) The right to an effective remedy, including the review of such decisions by appropriate judicial authorities, shall be respected.
Principle 11 concerns the safety of the displaced:
1. Every human being has the right to dignity and physical, mental and moral integrity.

2. Internally displaced persons, whether or not their liberty has been restricted, shall be protected in particular against:

(a) Rape, mutilation, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and other outrages upon personal dignity, such as acts of gender-specific violence, forced prostitution and any form of indecent assault
In addition to stories about rapes and other attacks in the temporary housing, there have been stories about locked doors and road blocks:
Principle 14

1. Every internally displaced person has the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his or her residence.

2. In particular, internally displaced persons have the right to move freely in and out of camps or other settlements.
Hmmm. What about the people relocated to the Superdome and Convention Center, as an interim measure? Principle 18:
1. All internally displaced persons have the right to an adequate standard of living.

2. At the minimum, regardless of the circumstances, and without discrimination, competent authorities shall provide internally displaced persons with and ensure safe access to:

(a) Essential food and potable water;

(b) Basic shelter and housing;

(c) Appropriate clothing; and

(d) Essential medical services and sanitation.
About that foreign help, even from Cuba. Principle 25:
1. The primary duty and responsibility for providing humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons lies with national authorities.

2. International humanitarian organizations and other appropriate actors have the right to offer their services in support of the internally displaced. Such an offer shall not be regarded as an unfriendly act or an interference in a State's internal affairs and shall be considered in good faith. Consent thereto shall not be arbitrarily withheld, particularly when authorities concerned are unable or unwilling to provide the required humanitarian assistance.

3. All authorities concerned shall grant and facilitate the free passage of humanitarian assistance and grant persons engaged in the provision of such assistance rapid and unimpeded access to the internally displaced.
I've merely highlighted some of the key concerns that I have had in the past week or so, but if you read the entire document, you will likely have others.

Former Clinton-era budget official for national security affairs, Gordon Adams, raises some of these issues, without the international normative angle, and draws a rather strong conclusion.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Helluva job all right

Public figures are now talking openly about "thousands" dead in New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

For example, GOP Strategist Jack Burkman was on MSNBC's "Connected":
"I understand there are 10,000 people dead. It's terrible. It's tragic. But in a democracy of 300 million people, over years and years and years, these things happen."
I saw that on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," but found it on the web at LoadedMouth.

I suspect he's going to regret that comment.

LoadedMouth, as well as Atrios, had CNN's Jack Cafferty -- who was responding to today's GOP talking point. Lots of Republicans are refusing to play the "blame game":
Why are we talking about the "blame game" - there are thousands of people dead because government officials failed to do what they're supposed to be doing. That's criminal behavior. I mean, that's no game. There are people dead in the city of New Orleans and up and down the gulf coast because people charged with seeing to their welfare failed to do that.
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin may have been the first to point out the likely fatality numbers.

With the fourth anniversary of 9/11 only days away, the inevitable comparisons have already started -- and they are going to become more prominent. The President hasn't yet found his bullhorn in this crisis. George W. Bush, September 1, 2005:
In Biloxi, Miss., he [Bush] complimented Michael Brown, director of FEMA. "Brownie, you're doing a helluva job."
Let's hope Katrina "changed everything" about emergency management's future.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

When Republicans Attack

Anyone smell a lame duck cooking?

Newt Gingrich:
"If we can't respond faster than this to an event we saw coming across the Gulf for days, then why do we think we're prepared to respond to a nuclear or biological attack?"
Current members of Congress:
Jon Kyl, Republican of Arizona, who chairs a subcommittee on homeland security.

"There has to be a plan in place—along with adequate resources— to be able to evacuate people, or at least provide relief supplies before panic sets in," Kyl said. "None of this appears to have been done in Louisiana."

Republican Mark Foley, a congressman from Florida, unsuccessfully called upon Bush to bring back from Iraq National Guard units whose states were devastated by Katrina.
Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts:
said Hurricane Katrina caused more economic damage than the Sept. 11 terrorist attack and the government response has been "undermanaged" and "an embarrassment."

..."No one can be happy with the kind of response which we've seen in New Orleans, and whether that's law enforcement or whether it's a provision of resources to help those in need, it has been an undermanaged setting," Romney said. "And I look at (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) and I shake my head and wonder why it's taken so long to get supplies to people that are in the Superdome."
Romney compared Katrina to the 9/11 attacks. Guess which was worse?
"It's not even in the same order of magnitude," Romney declared. "In 9/11, New York was hit with massive loss of life and yet four or five blocks away, people could still buy food, the water wasn't interrupted, the energy wasn't interrupted, the transmission of messages continued. ...This is a massive event which has affected hundreds of thousands, potentially millions of people, a huge area, and the economic impact for those people and for the nation as a whole is still being calculated."
Senator Susan Collins, Maine:
The Republican senator leading a Senate investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina said on Tuesday it was "woefully inadequate" and it had raised doubts about the U.S. ability to cope with a terrorist attack.

Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, spoke as lawmakers prepared to provide a second round of emergency money to cope with the devastation on the Gulf coast expected to total around $40 billion.

Collins said her Senate Homeland Security Committee would begin its investigation this week into the relief efforts.

"If our system did such a poor job when there was no enemy, how would the federal, state and local governments have coped with a terrorist attack that provided no advance warning and that was intent on causing as much death and destruction as possible?" she told reporters...

"Katrina was a disaster that scientists, emergency management officials and political leaders had anticipated for years, yet the initial response was woefully inadequate," Collins said.
Senator Trent Lott, Mississippi:
U.S. Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi who lost his coastal home in the storm, said Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown's job is in jeopardy.

"If he doesn't solve a couple of problems that we've got right now he ain't going to be able to hold the job, because what I'm going to do to him ain't going to be pretty," he said on CBS.
Neocon Bill Kristol:
"Almost every Republican I have spoken with is disappointed" in Bush's performance, said William Kristol, a conservative columnist with close White House ties.
More here.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More Greg Henderson

The Wilmington Star continues to provide updates from Dr. Greg Henderson, New Orleans pathologist. The webpage date of the third (and latest) is Sunday, September 4, but the message was sent on Saturday.
1. Thanks for all your letters of support and prayers and offers to help.

2. I am safe, and now based at the Sheraton hotel, where we have a new makeshift clinic established.

3. The situation at the convention center is urgent and disastrous – 10-20 thousand people in dire need of health care from minor to severe. A small MASH unit was established there last night. I will be joining them today. I desperately need the help of as many medically trained individuals as possible to triage these patients, treat if necessary, and evacuate – only the most serious will be seen at the MASH.

4. I need to figure out how to set up a morgue. There are several dead at the convention center.

5. Some supplies are arriving today courtesy of Fred Eschelman and PPD Inc .of North Carolina . I will get these supplies to the convention center as soon as they arrive.

6. I need mobile dialysis units – thousands haven’t been dialysed in over a week.

7. Now is the is the time to act. I need help. I haven’t found any other physicians in the field yet and I can only do so much.

8. Ochsner Hospital is the only fully functional facility in the city. They are effectively taking care of all of their patients and offering extrordinary help, and lots of supplies – I am proud to be part of this organization.
Business Week has been on this story, as has the BBC and MSNBC. So has Counterpunch and Time.


Find Dispatch #1 here.
And #2 is here.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The mainstream media join the blogosphere

I've previously argued that one essential function of the blogosphere is to provide quick and verifiable criticism of the misdeeds of public figures. When those in power say or do something outrageous, bloggers have a viable media with which to offer criticism that just might enter the public discussion. It is a means to assure public accountability. Indeed, I like to think that my blog serves this function on occasion.

CNN today:
Defending the U.S. government's response to Hurricane Katrina, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff argued Saturday that government planners did not predict such a disaster ever could occur.

But in fact, government officials, scientists and journalists have warned of such a scenario for years.
Since 9/11, Bush administration officials have said some ridiculous things, and big media outlets have all-too-rarely called them on it.

Apparently, facing an obvious national tragedy, the media has decided to enliven the public sphere with some blogger-style fact-checking:
"That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight," Chertoff said.

He called the disaster "breathtaking in its surprise."

But engineers say the levees preventing this below-sea-level city from being turned into a swamp were built to withstand only Category 3 hurricanes. And officials have warned for years that a Category 4 could cause the levees to fail.
I haven't been glued to the TV set by any means, but I saw CNN's Aaron Brown actually prioritize the hurricane victims over Bush administration bureacrats the other day! (Atrios has the transcript). And Ted Koppel's interview with FEMA Director Michael Brown the other night included a large number of sentences begining "With all due respect Mr. Brown..." Crooks and Liars has video links to the latter.

Maybe the tide has turned?

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Another NOLA Dispatch From Dr. Henderson

The September 2 Wilmington Morning Star has a followup on the dispatch from Dr. Greg Henderson, the academic pathologist who has been in downtown New Orleans since the hurricane started:
Authorities threw everyone out of the Ritz Carlton on Canal Street, and tried to relocate him to Ochsner Clinic, where he works and the site of the only operating hospital in New Orleans. However, Dr. Henderson went to the Sheraton, also on Canal Street and home of temporary police headquarters. He refuses to leave, he said, because people are sick and dying all around him.

“There’s no rule of law here,” he said. Reports of violence, even rape, are coming from the Superdome and the convention center. Isolated groups of police are doing the best they can, and the National Guard is overwhelmed. Gunfire on the streets around him is a regular occurance. There is no water or food – Dr. Henderson last night had not eaten in a day and a half.

He has turned the bar into a makeshift hospital. He desparately needs primary care supplies, and Wilmington service providers have risen to that challenge. Today, PPD’s corporate airplane is taking a load of supplies to New Orleans, with plans re in place for a helicopter to get them to the Superdome and to Dr. Henderson. Wilmington Health Associates contributed a great deal of medical supplies. PPD did the same, as well as food and water. The medical center contributed, as did other physicians’ offices in the area. The supplies will be on their way this afternoon.

Dr. Henderson said the situation is unimaginably bad. Down the street from him are dead bodies in plain view. He is the only physician in at least a seven-block area – the HIV physicians who were at the Ritz Carlton earlier evacuated when they were given the opportunity. He readily admits he is a pathologist, not a primary care doctor, but he is trying to manage.

He said the streets are full of newly homeless people who are desperate. Many have stolen guns.

“I go out in the street and take care of them,” he said. “When the gunfire stops, I see who needs help and who doesn’t.”

He took care of one man who was in shock. He was taking care of his sick wife while his daughter drowned.

“It everybody’s worst nightmare,” he said. “I cannot over-exaggerate it.”

He’s been in touch with this family and they know he is alive. But we wants to stay where he is as long as there is a need. He describes his plight now to someone starting a clinic in a third-world country.

“Any and all you can help will save a lot of people,” he said.
On one right-leaning blog, an apparently regular commenter is referencing Henderson's earlier post in an attempt to blame local officials for various failings -- in an overt attempt to exonerate President Bush for any wrongdoing in the past week (and his administration in the weeks and months leading up to the storm).

Friday, September 02, 2005

Tenet won't be a fall guy

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball reported on August 31 that a recent finding by the CIA's inspector general could be politically explosive. After all, it apparently tries to blame former CIA Director George Tenet for intelligence errors that helped lead to 9/11.
The still-top-secret CIA report goes beyond one released last year by the 9/11 Commission in sharply criticizing the agency’s performance. It recommends that a number of current and former senior officials be held accountable for purported intelligence lapses that preceded the attacks.

One of the report’s most controversial recommendations, NEWSWEEK has learned, is that an agency “accountability board” be specifically convened to determine if former CIA director George Tenet should be rebuked
John B. Roberts II, in the September 1 Washington Times, reports that Tenet has prepared a 20 page response to this document and is prepared to lash out at the Bush administration if it proceeds with this investigation. Specifically, Tenet might reveal just how much the Bush administration fudged the Iraq intelligence to promote war. He might also reveal more information about CIA briefings of President Bush about the al Qaeda threat in summer 2001:
Mr. Tenet's response to the report is a 20-page, tightly knitted rebuttal of responsibility prepared with the aid of a lawyer, according to the friendly source.
Mr. Tenet's decision to defend himself against the charges in the report poses a potential crisis for the White House. According to a former clandestine services officer, theformerCIAdirector turned down a publisher's $4.5 million book offer because he didn't want to embarrass the White House by rehashing the failure to prevent September 11 and the flawed intelligence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Tenet, according to a knowledgeable source, had a "wink and a nod" understanding with the White House that he wouldn't be scapegoated for intelligence failings.
As Roberts tells it, "that deal may be off." Moreover, he states the obvious: "The only way he [Tenet] can push off responsibility is to push it higher up the ladder."

Right now, both the Inspector General's report and Tenet's response are classified information, but Kansas Senator Pat Roberts, who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has reportedly looked into declassifying at least parts of the former report. Other members of Congress also want the data to be disclosed.

CIA Director Porter Goss faces unfortunate choices: ignore the internal CIA investigative/disciplinary process (as well as the politically powerful 9/11 families, who are among those requesting access to this report as the 4-year anniversary approaches), or launch a probe into Tenet that might go nuclear on the White House.

Apparently, Tenet turned down a $4.5 million book advance to tell his story, so I'm guessing he may have some explosive information to reveal.

For that reason, I look for Goss to ignore the IGC recommendation and sit on both reports. Maybe Tenet will end up with a plush position at a think tank or university, funded by George Bush's wealthy political allies.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Dispatch from New Orleans

This is a message I received in email from a third party. It was written in New Orleans by Dr. Greg Henderson, a pathologist who recently moved from Wilmington:
Aug. 31, 2005

I am writing this note on Tuesday at 2 PM. I wanted to update all of you as to the situation here. I don't know how much information you are getting but I am certain it is more than we are getting. Be advised that almost everything I am telling you is from direct observation or rumor from reasonable sources. They are allowing limited Internet access, so I hope to send this dispatch today.

I am now a temporary resident of the Ritz Carleton Hotel in New Orleans. I figured if it was my time to go, I wanted to go in a place with a good wine list. In addition, this hotel is in a very old building on Canal Street that could and did sustain little damage. Many of the other hotels sustained significant loss of windows, and we expect that many of the guests may be evacuated here.

Things were obviously bad yesterday, but they are much worse today. Overnight the water arrived. Now Canal Street (true to its origins) is indeed a canal. The first floor of all downtown buildings is underwater. I have heard that Charity Hospital and Tulane are limited in their ability to care for patients because of water. Ochsner is the only hospital that remains fully functional. However, I spoke with them today and they too are on generator and losing food and water fast.

The city now has no clean water, no sewerage system, no electricity, and no real communications. Bodies are still being recovered floating in the floods. We are worried about a cholera epidemic. Even the police are without effective communications. We have a group of armed police here with us at the hotel that is admirably trying to exert some local law enforcement.

This is tough because looting is now rampant. Most of it is not malicious looting. These are poor and desperate people with no housing and no medical care and no food or water trying to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, the people are armed and dangerous. We hear gunshots frequently. Most of Canal street is occupied by armed looters who have a low threshold for discharging their weapons. We hear gunshots frequently. The looters are using makeshift boats made of pieces of
Styrofoam to access. We are still waiting for a significant national guard presence.

The health care situation here has dramatically worsened overnight. Many people in the hotel are elderly and small children. Many other guests have unusual diseases. ... There are (Infectious Disease) physicians in at this hotel attending an HIV confection. We have commandeered the world famous French Quarter Bar to turn into an makeshift clinic. There is a team of about seven doctors and PAs and pharmacists. We anticipate that this will be the major medical facility in the central business district and French Quarter.

Our biggest adventure today was raiding the Walgreens on Canal under police escort. The pharmacy was dark and full of water. We basically scooped the entire drug sets into garbage bags and removed them. All under police escort. The looters had to be held back at gunpoint. After a dose of prophylactic Cipro I hope to be fine.

In all we are faring well. We have set up a hospital in the French Qarter bar in the hotel, and will start admitting patients today. Many will be from the hotel, but many will not. We are anticipating dealing with multiple medical problems, medications and acute injuries. Infection and perhaps even cholera are anticipated major problems. Food and water shortages are imminent.

The biggest question to all of us is where is the National Guard?. We hear jet fighters and helicopters, but no real armed presence, and hence the rampant looting. There is no Red Cross and no Salvation Army.

In a sort of cliche way, this is an edifying experience. One is rapidly focused away from the transient and material to the bare necessities of life. It has been challenging to me to learn how to be a primary care physician. We are under martial law so return to our homes is impossible.I don't know how long it will be and this is my greatest fear. Despite it all, this is a soul-edifying experience. The greatest pain is to think about the loss. And how long the rebuild will take. And the horror of so many dead people .

PLEASE SEND THIS DISPATCH TO ALL YOU THING MAY BE INTERSTED IN A DISPATCH from the front. I will send more according to your interest. Hopefully their collective prayers will be answered. By the way, suture packs, sterile gloves and stethoscopes will be needed as the Ritz turns into a MASH
I think these items are about the author.