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Friday, October 31, 2003

Domestic Politics and the War on Terror

Today's New York Times (registration required) has a political story everyone should read entitled, "Rice Faults Past Administrations on Terror." National Security Advisor Condi Rice spoke in New York last night to the National Legal Center for the Public Interest.

Basically, she used this and a TV appearance later in the evening to blame the Clinton administration for its alleged failure to take rogue states seriously. Here's what Rice said last night:
"Let us be clear," she said. "Saddam was not going to go away of his own accord. For 12 years, he gave every indication that he would never disarm and never comply with the Security Council's just demands. In fact, he mocked those demands and made every effort to circumvent them through a massive program of denial and deception."

Her speech to the legal center dwelt at some length on what she views as mistakes of the 1990's, and she was specifically critical of Mr. Clinton's approach to North Korea and to Iran. She argued that Mr. Bush is now succeeding at forcing the countries to roll back their nuclear programs.
This is all pretty bold stuff given that Iraq didn't have a nuclear program, or perhaps any WMD, and wasn't anything like an imminent threat.

Later Thursday night, Rice appeared on the Charlie Rose show and said this about Clinton foreign policy toward rogue states:
"It wasn't working with North Korea," she said. "No, it wasn't working with Iran. No, having Iraq for 12 years defy the United Nations on 17 different resolutions -- it wasn't working. And we had to confront that."
Of course, during the 2000 campaign, Rice herself had a very different view of the threats posed by Iraq (and North Korea and Iran). As she continues to do, Rice then blamed the Clinton administration for its failings. However, at that time, she didn't see these states as any kind of "grave and gathering" threat. Here are her words, posted on Stanford's Hoover Institution website, "adapted from "Promoting the National Interest" in Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000:
The United States must approach rogue regimes like North Korea and Iraq resolutely and decisively. The Clinton administration has failed here, sometimes threatening to use force and then backing down. These regimes are living on borrowed time, so there need be no sense of panic about them. Rather, the first line of defense should be a clear and classical statement of deterrence -- if they do acquire weapons of mass destruction, their weapons will be unusable because any attempt to use them will bring national obliteration.
At no point does she explain how Clinton policy failed to deter (or contain) any of the rogue states.

The message that everyone is supposed to receive ifrom Rice's rhetoric is clear: President Bush talked tough about preemption, actually invaded and occupied Iraq, and now Iran and North Korea are caving to diplomatic initiatives because of the credible threat posed by the Bush policy.

Rice supervised the writing of the NSS document, which links the long-time US concern with rogue states to the war on terror (drawing, of course, on prior Bush speeches). Perhaps the speech is an internal reaction to last month's admission that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. No, really, nothing.

The dubious nature of this link is apparent when one examines another quoted passage from Rice's speech last night. Again, from the Times:
"It is now undeniable that the terrorists declared war on America and on the civilized world many years before Sept. 11, 2001," she said in remarks delivered to the legal center at the Waldorf-Astoria. "The attack on the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983, the hijacking of the Achille Lauro in 1985, the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988, the World Trade Center in 1993, the attacks on American installations in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in 2000: These and other atrocities were part of a sustained, systematic campaign to spread devastation and chaos. Yet until Sept. 11, the terrorists faced no sustained, systematic and global response."
As the Times points out, this could be read as a critique of Reagan and Bush I as much as Clinton -- and the first nine months of W's administration.

This is also a totally stupid argument. Through the 1980s, the cold war was justifiably a more important foreign policy priority. Bush dealt with the invasion of Kuwait and Clinton faced violence all over the map (such as Yugoslavia and Rwanda). Rice herself wrote a lot more about Russia and China in her Foreign Affairs article than she did about rogue states and terrorism.

Even today, there are good reasons to think that other threats from terrorists are higher than the ones the administration is facing (or thinks it is facing) by focusing on rogue states.

And I don't even have to repeat the old cliche that, until 9/11, more Americans regularly died in their bathtubs than from terrorist attacks.

In any event, I predict this line of attack is going to fail -- and could blowback horribly for the administration. Michael Tomasky explains why in yesterday's web column at The American Prospect:
The question of Bush administration responsibility for 9-11, you may recall, was explored by some in the media in May 2002. Newsweek offered the most notable entry, with a 3,300-word cover package headlined "What Went Wrong?" In it, some of the magazine's lead writers on intelligence and foreign policy (Michael Isikoff, Mark Hosenball, Christopher Dickey) delved into various aspects of the story and came up with several tantalizing angles that had the potential to do real political damage to the White House. Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, briefed successor Condi Rice on al-Qaeda -- and she yawned. John Ashcroft nixed an FBI request for "hundreds more counter-intelligence agents," as the magazine put it, and reduced Justice Department funding for anti-terrorism activity. Donald Rumsfeld chose not to renew the Predator Drone, which tracked terrorist cells, and emphasized Star Wars Redux.

It was tough stuff. Other outlets piled on, and for two weeks the administration was playing defense. The problem was that no one -- the Democrats, say -- was playing offense.
This time, there are people playing offense -- Howard Dean, Wesley Clark, Joseph Wilson, and maybe even Thomas Kean and the CIA.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Conservatives on campus?

I don't have much time to blog today, but I thought I'd point everyone to this link about a new "Academic Bill of Rights" sponsored by a couple of Republican legislators. Below, I'm quoting from their website about the proposed bill, but have skipped an awful lot of it:
The Academic Bill of Rights Goes to Washington
By Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Walter Jones
October 22, 2003

Yesterday, Congressmen Jack Kingston, R-GA; Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-NC; and Joe Jones, a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, held a press conference announcing their support for the Academic Bill of Rights. The two congressmen have introduced a bill supporting the document's non-compulsory call for colleges and universities to end any discrimination against hiring conservatives and bring intellectual diversity to campus.

Rep. Walter B. Jones' Press Release:

Statistics have shown that while campus funds are available for distribution to all on-campus organizations, funding is doled out to organizations with leftist agendas by a ratio of 50:1. Such biased financing results in a deluge of liberal speakers being invited to step up to their soapboxes far more often than those with a conservative bent. While colleges and universities are expected to extend an unprejudiced form of higher education, today’s liberal collegiate leaders are denying our students an objective curriculum.
Much of the press release concerns the left's dominance of college faculty and the indoctrination of college students by left-wing professors.

Note that the members of Congress proposing the bill are careful to say that they do not plan to force colleges to embrace their form of "affirmative action." I'm not sure what they hope to accomplish with their bill in its current form.

This post is a followup to my prior one on the ISI on college campuses. Remember to follow the money.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Debating the Bush Doctrine

As those following the newspaper headlines are making clear, the CIA and other intelligence agencies are being blamed for the apparent reality that Iraq did not have WMD.

Moreover, the administration is pushing hard to reframe the debate about Iraq altogether. They are providing a lot of evidence suggesting that Iraqi reconstruction is going well. Moreover, many other states provided diplomatic cover at the UN Security Council and are now starting to pony up some cash. Thus, the administration is saying -- and the world seems to agree -- that Iraqi reconstruction is a top priority goal in the war on terror.

Bluntly then, even if the war was a big mistake, Bush can still win the argument about Iraqi reconstruction and salvage his foreign policy position.

How can Bush's opponents reframe this entire debate so as to highlight precisely why Iraq was a policy mistake -- and should not be repeated? And most importantly, note that it wasn't merely the intelligence agency's fault.

I think the answer is to reframe the Iraq debate in terms of the overall US strategy in the war on terror. Should the US continue to advocate the Bush Doctrine, which makes possible preemptive military strikes against states that sponsor terror and/(or?) pursue WMD?

Yesterday, I received my copy of International Studies Perspectives, which is one of the official journals of the International Studies Association. The issue includes three articles on the Bush Doctrine, including one coauthored by myself and Peter Dombrowski of the Naval War College. It's always nice to see the final product of something like that and I hope some professors in the field use the articles for winter or spring classes on US Foreign Policy or National Security.

In any case, reading through the pieces, I thought again of the ongoing debate about Iraq and the lack of imminent threat. As I argued a few days ago, the administration actively tried to lower the bar on what constitutes an imminent threat.

However, they also overstated Iraqi threats, as is now apparent.

In other words, to arrive at the decision to attack, they lowered the threshold normally acceptable to attack and at the same time they overstated the level of threat to make it seem as if the lower standard had been met.

While it is true that many, many people thought Iraq had WMD, it is also clear that the IAEA had already said definitively before the war that Iraq had no serious nuclear weapons program.

I think the Iraq debate should be reframed with this question in mind: Should the US attack rogue states on the prospect that they have chemical and biological weapons programs?

Of course, this is not how the Iraq debate was framed at the time. National Security Advisor Condi Rice famously stated that the administration did not want to wait for a mushroom cloud to be the smoking gun. I think there are some serious lessons in this for thinking about how to frame opposition to the Bush Doctrine.

That is why I urge people to go back and read Condi Rice's address to New York's Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, October 1, 2002. Rice delivered The 2002 Wriston Lecture on "A Balance of Power That Favors Freedom."

Here are the key paragraphs about Iraq's threat and the Bush Doctrine. I'm bolding some key statements for quick reading:
Tyrants allied with terrorists can greatly extend the reach of their deadly mischief. Terrorists allied with tyrants can acquire technologies allowing them to murder on an ever more massive scale. Each threat magnifies the danger of the other. And the only path to safety is to effectively confront both terrorists and tyrants.

For these reasons, President Bush is committed to confronting the Iraqi regime, which has defied the just demands of the world for over a decade. We are on notice. The danger from Saddam Hussein's arsenal is far more clear than anything we could have foreseen prior to September 11th. And history will judge harshly any leader or nation that saw this dark cloud and sat by in complacency or indecision.

The Iraqi regime's violation of every condition set forth by the UN Security Council for the 1991 cease-fire fully justifies -- legally and morally -- the enforcement of those conditions.

It is also true that since 9/11, our Nation is properly focused as never before on preventing attacks against us before they happen.

The National Security Strategy does not overturn five decades of doctrine and jettison either containment or deterrence. These strategic concepts can and will continue to be employed where appropriate. But some threats are so potentially catastrophic -- and can arrive with so little warning, by means that are untraceable -- that they cannot be contained. Extremists who seem to view suicide as a sacrament are unlikely to ever be deterred. And new technology requires new thinking about when a threat actually becomes "imminent." So as a matter of common sense, the United States must be prepared to take action, when necessary, before threats have fully materialized.

Preemption is not a new concept. There has never been a moral or legal requirement that a country wait to be attacked before it can address existential threats. As George Shultz recently wrote, 'If there is a rattlesnake in the yard, you don't wait for it to strike before you take action in self-defense.' The United States has long affirmed the right to anticipatory self-defense -- from the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula in 1994.

But this approach must be treated with great caution. The number of cases in which it might be justified will always be small. It does not give a green light -- to the United States or any other nation -- to act first without exhausting other means, including diplomacy. Preemptive action does not come at the beginning of a long chain of effort. The threat must be very grave. And the risks of waiting must far outweigh the risks of action.
In his Press Conference yesterday, President Bush said that he had been claiming all along that Iraq was a "gathering threat." Condi Rice strongly implies that it was also grave. But the key point is that both claims were made in terms of relative threats in the war on terror.

The debate about Iraq needs also to focus on the bigger picture vis-a-vis the war on terrorism. The Bush administration needs to be very specific from this point forward about what states they view as posing a grave and gathering threat.

Think about it, Iraq was supposed to be the highest priority after Afghanistan. Plus, North Korea seems to be off the table, and certainly there are many signs of diplomatic progress with Iran. That exhausts the axis of evil list.

So is the US thinking of war versus Syria or some other rogue state?

Or, because no states present a "grave and gathering threat," should everyone breathe a sigh of relief that the US isn't really thinking of going to war with any states for the foreseeable future. This would mean, of course, that national security issues would be of much less importance in the 2004 political campaign. And security, of course, is what the Republicans are banking on in the face of a weak economy.

The Democratic challengers for President need to weigh in on the future scenarios relevant to the war on terror and not merely rehash Iraq.

Specifically, they need to describe what they would do about such threats. How serious are they? Would any of these candidates proposal also to attack the rogue nations? What are the costs and benefits? Hell, even Donald Rumsfeld has figured out that the wider war on terror raises many bigger problems.

Surely, the Democrats can think of some creative and non-military means to address problems like the madrassas, Kashmir, Russian loose nukes, US/western oil dependence on the Middle East, the Palestinian problem, etc.

Let the reframing begin.

French preemption strategy?

A reader sent me a copy of a UPI story in today's Washington Times that strongly suggests France may be embracing something like the Bush Doctrine. Journalist Lisa Bryant writes
"France may soon jettison its Cold War-era policy of nuclear deterrence for a more U.S.-style, proactive doctrine....If the report is true, the French shift would echo a policy change formulated by the Bush administration in 2002."
There's not much of substance cited, as the story is quite reliant upon a story from the French paper Liberation (described in the story as left-leaning). The report claims that the changes are pending (which means they are not reflected in current policy documents that emphasize second strike capabilities of French nuclear forces) and would involve tarketing of rogue state WMD -- though apparently not terrorists.
"For the first time," the newspaper [Liberation] reported, "nuclear forces aren't only targeting states with atomic weapons, but powers capable of using chemical or biological weapons against France."
The real meat of the story comes in two brief quotes from a report from the French Defense Ministry. Unfortunately, the article link to the report is dead.
"Nuclear deterrence remains our fundamental guarantee," it says at one point. "At the same time, the general military strategy includes actions of pre-emption, protection and action-pre-emption to face, with necessary flexibility, other types of threats."

Outside France, the document says at another point, "we must identify and prevent threats as early as possible. In this framework, the possibility of pre-emptive action can be considered, once an explicit threat ... is recognized."
The story devotes almost as much space to fairly strong official denials:
French officials yesterday cited a series of statements made in recent months and years, including a 2001 address by Mr. Chirac. "Our nuclear forces are directed against no country, and we have always refused the chance that nuclear weapons could be considered a battle weapon employed in a military strategy," the president said at the time.

"Nothing has changed at all," said Jean-Francois Bureau, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, in a telephone interview. "If anything, we've underscored our strategy of deterrence."
Despite these denials, the story cites one outside expert to support the journalist's angle. Francois Heisbourg, described in the story as the head of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris, apparently thinks it is a big change:
"The French policy over the last 40 years has been centered on nuclear deterrence, and on force projection," Mr. Heisbourg said. "When you put pre-emptive action up there, on about the same level, it's obviously not a minor thing."
To me, the brief article doesn't convincingly demonstrate that France is about to embrace the Bush Doctrine.

Most importantly, if an "explicit threat" is required, that may not be very different from "imminent threat," which is already acceptable interstate practice.

Also, though this may be reading too much into the story, it looks more like the French are simply contemplating multiple targeting options. This would mean a change on the order of what the US did during the Carter administration (PD 59), allowing counterforce rather than counter-city targeting.

This would be a move, strictly speaking, away from deterrence, but it would not be the same as the Bush Doctrine, emphasizing strikes against threats before they fully develop. Instead, it would be more of a war-fighting posture, linking French nuclear weapons to its overall defense posture.

Then again, the Chirac quote also seems to deny this.

So far, I haven't found this story anywhere other than the Washington Times, which always makes me leary.

Monday, October 27, 2003

"There she is...Miss Afghanistan"

Last week, I blogged about the cultural diversity treaty that is in the works. The PC argument is that local artists, writers, and other creative people around the world are marginalized by the "Americanization" (and westernization) of global culture. It is a serious concern to Canada, and to the French, among many others.

The more worrisome possibility is that Americanization helps provoke the so-called "clash of civilizations." I invoked that phrase, for example, when discussing the global spread of General Boykin's anti-Muslim words.

Basically, the globalization of western/US culture often means, in practice, that ideas and images are diffused to people who find them shocking, amoral and dangerous. Backlash against westernization has perhaps contributed to internal revolt and terrorism -- in places like Iran, for example.

Today, I ran across a link to this brief story about an Afghan woman's participation in the Miss Earth beauty pageant in the Philippines. I'm going to quote several paragraphs from the story, though I'm also leaving some out:
Miss Afghanistan Vida Samadzai prompted gasps from the crowd as she strutted down the catwalk in a sexy red bikini...

"The way she appeared is not in our Afghan culture nor is endorsed by Islam," said Habiba Surabi, women's affairs minister...

It is the first time in 30 years that an Afghan woman has taken part in a beauty show.

The slim and dark-haired Samadzai was born and raised in Afghanistan, but left for the United States in 1996 to escape the civil war.
The story includes a photo that would not look out of place in most western media. Actually, the Hindustan Times had a much bigger photo -- but that linked was removed so here it is from yahoo.

By the way, I know some blogs (like public opinion) have photos, but my service apparently doesn't allow them.

This story is odd on many levels. The Afghan woman has clearly been westernized by living in the US for 7 years, but the Afghans quoted in the story are just as clearly shocked. The second photo in the story is of a woman in a burqa, described as a full length body blanket. It certainly makes for a clashing set of images.

I'm guessing that this is just one more relatively small slight, but it makes interesting food for thought.

Update: Afghan Voice has a link to a photo of the Afghan contestant in more traditional garb.

Note to readers: Send me an email if you would prefer I switch to some kind of blog hosting arrangement that allows comments. I cannot figure it out on my current blogspot account. Perhaps it is part of the for-pay package?

Since I do not receive that much email, perhaps comments are unnecessary? Big blogs get lots of comments, but I often see blogs with few. Hmmm.

Now that I have your attention: I also cannot figure out how to make my RSS feed work correctly. Any simple technical assistance on that would be appreciated.

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Iraq's non-proliferation policy

There's an interesting story in today's Washington Post overviewing what the US knows about Iraq's nuclear weapons program. While it includes the usual warning (i.e., that Saddam Hussein would have loved to possess them), it also makes clear that Iraq really had no program after 1991:
Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.
Perhaps the most outlandish political spin in the article is buried towards the end:
An administration official, defending the CIA's prewar analysis, said its message had been widely misunderstood. "The term 'reconstituting' means restoring to a former condition, a process often inferred to be short term," he said. "Based on reporting, however, Saddam clearly viewed it as a long-term process. So did the NIE."
Is that why administration officials kept referring to mushroom clouds? Because it was a long-term process?

There are plenty of details in the long story. For example, remember those aluminum tubes that the President mentioned during the fall 2002 debate?
investigators have judged the aluminum tubes to be "innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead.

... [several paragraphs snipped]

"They were rockets," said Meekin, 48, director general of scientific and technical assessment for Australia's Defence Intelligence Organisation, speaking by satellite telephone from Baghdad. "The tubes were used for rockets."
The story includes a lot of detail about the intelligence and even clarifies the story about the buried blueprints for a centrifuge.

Meekin is quoted at the very end of the piece saying that he thinks the sanctions turned out to be quite effective. The US needs to have a public debate about anti-proliferation strategy, as I said yesterday, so this is a very important point. Hopefully, some of the Democrats running for President will push this question.

Kay's team apparently knows that the nuclear threat was non-existent. The Post reports that hardly any of the investigators are looking into it:
On the ground in Iraq, one investigator said, the nuclear investigation began as and remained "the least significant of the missions." The resources, personnel and operational pace of the nuclear team, he said, "were minuscule compared to chem and bio," a reference to chemical and biological weapons probes.

Fewer than one-tenth of 1 percent of the search personnel had nuclear assignments, about a dozen out of 1,500 at the peak strength of the Iraq Survey Group....

"There really wasn't a need for our specialized area of work," Navy Cmdr. David Beckett said in a recent interview. In Iraq, Beckett commanded a group of nuclear-trained Special Forces known as the Direct Support Team. Now program manager for special nuclear programs at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Beckett said the aluminum tubes and machine tools cited in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate -- vacuum tubes, industrial magnets and balancing machines -- were "not a big focus" of his work in Iraq. He added, "To be honest, I've read more about that since I got back."
I'd recommend reading the full story.

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Imminent threat?

Josh Marshall is currently hosting a contest on his blog. He is trying to dredge up the best quotes from people in the Bush administration asserting that Iraq posed an "imminent threat."

Recently, Dan Drezner judged a debate hosted on his blog on this awkward resolution: "It is a complete fabrication that the Bush administration argued in the runup to the war that there was an imminent threat from Iraq."

Drezner found for the person arguing the negative. The administration, he declares, did often say some things that sounded very close to imminent threat (you know, "gathering" threats; "mushroom clouds," that sort of stuff).

However, I think those who defend the President have a valid point, in that the administration specifically argued that old standards about imminent threat had to be changed. Look at the September 2002 National Security Strategy document. They weren't using the phrase in the same way that prior advocates had. Drezner, by the way, points this out as well.

The administration was trying to lower the bar. And if the world lowers the bar far enough, preemptive attacks (which are widely recognized as legal against imminent threats) give way to preventive wars (which have long been viewed as illegal and aggressive). This is why the Pope opposed the latest war.

In any case, this distinction means that the real debate should focus on what kind of evidence is needed to launch a war against an alleged threat that is NOT imminent. When is a preventive war acceptable? Or when should notions of imminent threat be altered?

Many of the arguments the Bush administration was making about Iraq could easily be made about Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba, or North Korea. The State Department has long listed those states as sponsors of terrorism, and they each have a real potential to acquire WMD. After all, chemical and biological weapons are readily manufactured.

There's decent evidence that forces in the US War for Independence deliberatively (and perhaps successfully) tried to spread smallpox to the enemy. Chemical weapons, of course, were widely used in World War I.

So the administration is emphasizing threats that have existed, literally for one or two centuries.

And lots and lots of states probably have programs that could be viewed as threatening.

Conceivably, the US could launch a lot of wars using the rationale employed to defend war in Iraq. And that is why the current Republican view that nobody claimed war was imminent is so scary. If they had said the threat was imminent and then proved it in Iraq, support for the war would have been and would still be, much, much greater.

Nuclear weapons are a different order of magnitude, of course, but the IAEA said pretty clearly and definitively before the latest war that Iraq did not have a nuclear program. While Iran and North Korea are obviously of concern on this front, fears are dramatically reduced if we eliminate those merely with chemical or biological programs. And, as I've blogged recently, there are new policy initiatives aimed specifically at Iran and North Korea. Even President Bush says he doesn't plan war against North Korea (maybe he didn't read the NSS 2002).

So, who is willing to support new "preemptive" wars against outlaw states without evidence of imminent threat?

I fear the neocons in the Bush administration remain ready to fight. Cheney's recent speeches certainly state this.

Republican House member Pat Roberts (Chair of the Intelligence Committee), however, says he's not sure that Congress would have backed war in Iraq if they knew then what it now knows about Iraq's WMD.
Asked whether he thinks Congress would have supported a war in Iraq with only the existing evidence about weapons of mass destruction, Roberts said, "I don't know."

"Right now, we're seeing a lot of people who say that because we haven't found the specific evidence or the actual weaponry, that they would not have voted to go to war," he said.
I doubt seriously that the Bush administration is going to launch another war before the next election -- unless there's some sort of clear provocation such as another major terrorist attack.

However, the question of preemptive war needs to be a major issue in the 2004 election. What is the best strategy for combating terror and promoting non-proliferation? Should the US be attacking states it might fear down the road, or developing policies targeted at specific problems such as "loose nukes" in Russia or command and control of Pakistani forces.

I'm for the latter.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Scalia and the ISI

Brad DeLong has a great post about Justice Scalia's latest rant at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. Presumably, Scalia is the topic of much blogging today.

Does everyone know what the ISI is and does? It is funded by Richard Scaife and family (noted rich Clinton haters) and seeks to "educate for liberty," meaning that it seeks to get college students to embrace "limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility, free enterprise, and Judeo-Christian moral standards."

According to Media Transparency, it funds 70 conservative student newspapers, sponsors conferences and lectures on college campuses, and produces publications that seek to mount a "counteroffensive" against the left, which it views as entrenched in universities. Here's some material originally from the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP):
The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI), a 44-year-old organization dedicated to free markets, limited government, individual liberty, personal responsibility and "cultural norms" consistent with a free society, is one of the top grantees of the right wing movement. ISI now claims over 60,000 members and maintains an active presence on campuses by organizing forty conferences a year and more than 300 lectures. The Institute produced several publications including Campus, which attacks progressive trends in higher education, the Common Sense Guide to American Colleges, and an ISI leadership guide for conservative activists...

...As indicated above, funders have created and heavily supported academic change organizations and networks whose fundamental mission is to "take back" the universities from scholars and academic programs regarded either as too hostile to free markets or too critical of the values and history of Western civilization. This agenda was clearly articulated by T. Kenneth Cribb, president of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, who stated in a lecture to the Heritage Foundation:

"We must...provide resources and guidance to an elite which can take up anew the task of enculturation. Through its journals, lectures, seminars, books and fellowships, this is what ISI has done successfully for 36 years. The coming of age of such elites has provided the current leadership of the conservative revival. But we should add a major new component to our strategy: the conservative movement is now mature enough to sustain a counteroffensive on that last Leftist redoubt, the college campus...We are now strong enough to establish a contemporary presence for conservatism on campus, and contest the Left on its own turf. We plan to do this by greatly expanding the ISI field effort, its network of campus-based programming."
I wonder how the right would react if some overtly leftist organization announced an intent to recruit students into the progressive movement?

I know, I know, the right thinks campuses are already hotbets of leftist thought and action. But where are the left-wing student newspapers? Where are the sponsored lectures and conferences on progressive themes? Where are the liberal scholarship dollars? And if the left is so powerful on campuses, why do so many college graduates keep voting Republican?

Maybe all the dollars are spent at Harvard, where the students train to be the core of the Democratic Party?

In any event, academics and students might not know that ISI is close at hand on their own college campuses. Google your campus for evidence of ISI events...or money. Always follow the money.

Click here to see my results for University of Louisville.

Updates: Mark Kleiman notes a new article on the shoulder-fired missile problem from Federation of American Scientists.

Kleiman also has recent updates on the Plame affair, the Rumsfeld memo , General Boykins, and presidential candidate Wesley Clark -- all topics I've blogged about over the past few weeks.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Cultural Diversity Treaty

Around the world, many NGOs, governments, film makers, artists, writers and others are pushing for some sort of international convention to preserve cultural diversity.

This week, the Christian Science Monitor had an interesting story (note the title, "Global pushback against 'Titanic' culture") about the rationale for such a convention. French leader Jacques Chirac promoted the idea at UNESCO's recent Paris meeting.

Those supporting such a treaty fear that globalization is Americanization, but embracing "diversity" allows them to counter that notion without being explicitly anti-American. Instead, they argue for preservation of their own cultural ideas and diversity. Let me quote Sheila Copps, Canada's heritage minister, from the CSM story:
"A book is clearly quite different from a ball of wool," and should not be subject to the same trade rules. "If you demand the right to see your own language reflected in a book, is that anticompetitive?" she asks.

Canada's strong cultural policy..."ensures free movement of ideas," says Ms. Copps, "but it saves shelf space for our own faces and voices. If you don't see yourself reflected in books, movies, TV, and music there is a part of civilization that's missing."
The US government is arguing that "preservation of culture" is a fairly clear means to limit free trade in "intellectual property." For transnational corporations, that means video games, DVDs, music, books and TV programs.

US officials also argue that consumers, not governments, should make choices about viewing or reading particular cultural material.

It is obviously quite early in the treaty-making process, but there does seem to be a transnational network of activists (the International Network for Cultural Diversity) that has been meeting regularly -- and it has produced a draft treaty.

What to make of all this?

American culture is pervasive around the world. During the mid-1980s, I went to an interesting talk by George Quester of Maryland that described the power of American television in Canada. Apparently, polls showed that Canadians had watched so many programs about policing in the US ("Dragnet" and "Kojak" were mentioned at the time, iirc) that they had huge misconceptions about their basic rights. Canadians had heard US Miranda rights so often they they (incorrectly) thought they had them!

Is the popularity of Britney Spears and "Baywatch" harmful? The global diffusion of this "cultural material") might not trigger the "clash of civilizations," but that doesn't mean the world is happy about the popularity of American culture.

If nothing else, this effort (following Cancun) illustrates that the laissez-faire WTO is under attack on a variety of fronts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Rumsfeld's revenge?

A couple of weeks ago, I noted a brief CNN report, based on a NY Daily News story, about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's apparently tenuous hold on his job. National Security Advisor Condi Rice had just been put in charge of coordinating Iraq policy and Rumsfeld was being blamed for much of what's going wrong on the ground.

The administration also started a PR campaign to sell the war on terror. Vice President Cheney, President Bush and Rice made some prominent speeches to various groups. The conservative media's echo chamber, and even some "mainstream media" have thus been reporting more good news: about opening schools in Iraq, small victories in the war on terror, etc.

Whether Rumsfeld is getting his revenge or not, two stories from today's news highlight the administration's difficulty in putting a positive spin on Iraq.

First, the Associated Press had a story today from the top US soldier in Iraq:
The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Wednesday the number of attacks against American troops in Iraq is increasing.

During a press conference, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez said the average of 20 to 25 attacks daily had increased over the last three weeks "to a peak of 35 attacks a day."
This is the lead in a long story outlining the horrors of homemade bombs, ambushes and other guerilla-style attacks on US forces.

When I was in grad school, about a decade after Vietnam ended, some professors were still teaching that great power "wars" against guerillas were hopeless. Hmmm.

The second story (from USA Today) is about a fairly pessimistic memo on the overall "war on terror" written by Rumsfeld himself. Here's the lead paragraphs from that story:
The United States has no yardstick for measuring progress in the war on terrorism, has not "yet made truly bold moves" in fighting al-Qaeda and other terror groups, and is in for a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a memo that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld sent to top-ranking Defense officials last week.

Despite upbeat statements by the Bush administration, the memo to Rumsfeld's top staff reveals significant doubts about progress in the struggle against terrorists. Rumsfeld says that "it is not possible" to transform the Pentagon quickly enough to effectively fight the anti-terror war and that a "new institution" might be necessary to do that.
A new institution, other than the Department of Defense?

Wow, that's a big claim. The newspaper calls the memo "candid" and "sobering."

One oddity. The memo claims "The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' cost of millions." However, this is an obvious error. This is a reference to the offense-defense costs, not the cost-benefit. Rumsfeld is doing the kind of math that has always precluded deployment of missile defenses. Offensive missiles are much cheaper and are more effective than the defensive ones.

In this case, defending against terror is more costly than terror.

But that doesn't mean the cost-benefit ratio is against the defense.

The cost-benefit, obviously, must calculate the expense of fighting terror and weigh that versus the gain from preventing terrorist acts. How much did the Trade Center attack cost? How many future Trade Centers have been prevented?

Rumsfeld argues, however, that it is quite difficult to measure success in the war on terror. I guess that means the Pentagon doesn't have an answer to the question. This is from Rumsfeld's memo, which is also available:
Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror. Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?
I'm wondering if enough people in the administration asked that question before the US went into Iraq and created an occupying force that is now both a recruiting boon and giant bulls-eye for international terrorism.

Update: Is That Legal? discusses whether the Rumsfeld memo was leaked or openly distributed. The blogger points out that the Pentagon now has a copy on its website!

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Win some, lose some?

Yesterday, I blogged about the latest foreign policy initiatives towards remaining "axis of evil" states Iran and North Korea. Already, today, these policies have prompted some early feedback.

The NY Times (registration required) has a story about the successful trip to Iran by the Foreign Ministers Jack Straw (UK), Joschka Fischer (Germany) and Dominique de Villepin (France). The Europeans concluded a deal that includes these terms:
The Iranian government has decided to engage in full cooperation with the I.A.E.A. to address and resolve through full transparency all requirements and outstanding issues of the agency and clarify and correct any possible failures and deficiencies within the I.A.E.A.

Having received the necessary clarifications, the Iranian government has decided to sign the I.A.E.A. Additional Protocol and commence ratification procedures.

Iran has a right within the nuclear nonproliferation regime to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes it has decided voluntarily to suspend all uranium enrichment and processing activities as defined by the I.A.E.A.
This is a lot of good news, though the Times story includes a couple of skeptical quotes from Bush administration officials wondering if Iran will comply -- and taking credit for the deal as an extension of US foreign policy.

That last claim is odd given that the EU arguably has greater leverage than the US towards Iran because of its more moderate stance. The EU states actually have something to threaten short of war.

Meanwhile, North Korea has called the US security offer, "laughable" and claims it "doesn't deserve even any consideration," according to the latest Reuters report.

While the story points out that North Korea often uses charged public rhetoric during its negotiations, it does seem as if it is trying to get a specific "non-aggression" pact rather than merely a less certain "security guarantee." Representatives from the US, China, Japan and Russia are expected to meet with North Korea for a second time before the end of 2003.

Finally, a word about the personnel in the Bush administration. Dan Drezner has posted recently about bureaucratic politics within the administration. He points readers to a recent disturbing (and oddly humorous) story from the Philadelphia Inquirer :
The infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering on such major foreign-policy issues as North Korea, Syria, Iran and postwar Iraq have escalated to a level that veterans of government say they have not seen in years. At one point, the senior official said, Bush himself asked how bad it was.

"This isn't as bad as [George] Shultz vs. [Caspar] Weinberger, is it?" he asked, referring to a legendary Reagan administration rivalry between secretaries of state and defense. One top official reportedly nodded and said it was "way worse."
Isn't this the administration that promised to put the adults in charge again?

On that note, I really enjoyed this post by Brad DeLong:
It is long past time for a complete change of personnel at all levels of the Bush administration. The world cannot afford to have neoconservatives at high levels of the U.S. government who do not work for global prosperity and peace, but instead for maximum U.S. relative power. Now we do know that there are grownups in the Republican Party--statesmen who work for more rapid economic development, for multilateral cooperation, and for a world in which the United States leads because of its fortunate position rather than dominates because of its military power. They staffed the first Bush administration. Where are they?

Monday, October 20, 2003

Latest in anti-proliferation efforts

Already, it has been a busy week for the remaining two members of the so-called "axis of evil." When President Bush applied this label to Iran and North Korea in his January 2002 "State of the Union" address, terrorism was on everyone's mind. It has now been made quite clear, however, that the primary western security concern relating to these states is old-fashioned nuclear proliferation.

The US is now floating an offer not to attack North Korea (well, officially, US officials are talking about "security assurances") in exchange for the renunciation of North Korea's nuclear program. The deal is reminiscent of the bargain agreed between the US and Soviet Union in 1962 to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. In exchange for an agreement not to attack Cuba, the Soviets would withdraw their missiles.

While US-Cuban ties have remained sour for 4 decades, the deal has mostly worked. Hopefully, North Korean proliferation can be prevented via peaceful diplomacy.

In the case of Iran, the foreign ministers of Britain (Jack Straw), Germany (Joschka Fischer) and France (Dominique de Villepin), are visiting Iran to discuss Iran's nuclear program. The details are a bit different, but the deal's logic is similar:
Diplomats said the EU ministers would demand Iran cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), accept tougher U.N. inspections and halt uranium enrichment.

In return, the ministers would offer to recognise Iran's right to a civilian nuclear energy programme, give some technical assistance and guarantee Iran's access to imported fuel for nuclear power plants.
The IAEA has set an October 31 deadline to set up inspections that can confirm Iranian compliance with the Nonproliferation Treaty. Otherwise, the IAEA might recommend the UN Security Council impose sanctions.

Perhaps the EU has decent leverage on Iran since it has long pursued trade ties to moderate Iran, rather than sanctions, which the US has used since the Shah fell and American hostages were taken.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Playing hard-to-get

Reuters is running a story that follows up on my blog from yesterday.

The Bush administration hopes that last week's UN Security Council resolution opens the doors for friendly states to send some troops to Iraq. Essentially, UN legitimacy provides political cover for what would likely be an unpopular decision.

It now seems that neither Pakistan nor Saudi Arabia is going to follow through. They've framed their remarks in terms that sound an awful lot like popular sovereignty, ironic given the military and monarchical roots of those governments:
Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two key allies in the U.S.-led war on terror, ruled out on Sunday sending troops to Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi people.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Iraqis had shown no desire to have foreign peacekeepers in their country.

"This express opinion from the Iraqi people has not been shown to us," he said at a joint news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri in Islamabad.

"Up till that time at least for Saudi Arabia....we will not send any troops."

Kasuri said Pakistan would also wait for an invitation from Iraq before making any decision on contributing troops to a multinational peacekeeping force authorised by a unanimously passed U.N. resolution on Thursday.

"If the people of Iraq ask for help, Pakistan as a brotherly country will do what it can," he said.

"But we will wait for that to happen and when that happens, I am sure the public opinion in Pakistan will also change."
This is not going to please Washington, where Congress has been heatedly debating Bush's $87 billion request.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Rethinking the UN vote

Since last blogging on the topic. I've been thinking a bit more about that UN vote from Thursday.

What did the US gain?

The unanimous UN vote certainly provides a measure of political legitimacy; thus, some other states can more readily act to assist the US.

However, it is not yet clear what precisely that additional assistance will mean.

While none of France, Germany or Russia intend to provide cash or troops, they are going to attend the aid conference next month. In the past two days, US coalition partners Japan and Spain have promised some limited help (less than $1.5 billion in all), timed I'm sure to give the impression that the ball is already rolling -- and to coincide with Bush's visit in the case of Japan.

Moreover, states like India now might be able to provide some troops, though I'd guess they'll want someone else to pay for them. Even if they end up going as UN peacekeepers, the US would pay a substantial portion of their costs. The US pays about 20-25% of the overall UN budget and a higher portion (around one third) of peacekeeping costs. So far as I know, peacekeeping isn't yet planned and would require another resolution by the Security Council, which means France and Russia would have to agree at least not to veto. Do not count on that any time soon.

So, the new UN agreement might provide a small amount of cash and some troops. My guess is that the administration hopes that this veneer of multilateralism will suffice to provide domestic support for the overall Iraq project. That will mean tens of billions in additional US funds (the $87 billion, at minimum) and the ongoing deployment of over 100,000 American troops.

If this multilateral cover works, then the US efforts at the UN will have "succeeded," even if the UN role remains quite insignificant and other states pony up very little.

In other words, I think some were beginning to worry about sustenance of domestic political support for the Iraq project. Calpundit has blogged a little about the recent congressional effort to turn the latest aid into a loan.

The French, Germans and Russians did get a bit more out of the resolution than I originally reported as well. For example, Kofi Annan, as well as the Iraqi Governing Council, will have a voice in the political process that is supposed to set a timetable for a constitution and elections.

Also, the aid monies are going to be handled by a multilateral group and not by either the US or the Iraqis. This will help assure transparency (indeed, there's a specific provision for transparency) and accountability in the development process.

This "democratization of development" is a first step toward countering worries I've mentioned before about crony capitalism -- or "vote buying" by the US with states like Turkey, who will receive a big loan package even as they deploy troops to Iraq.

The UN's role is not going to expand quickly, however, as the AP is reporting even today that Annan remains reluctant to send the agency's people back to Iraq until the country is more secure. Since visiting US VIPs don't stay in Iraq when they visit, it seems pretty obvious that westerners still view the situation as unstable, at best.

The resolution says the UN will play a role in Iraq "as circumstances permit." Some might read that as a way to keep the UN out of the process, but Annan is apparently using it as a way to highlight worries about security on the ground.

Hopefully, the situation on the ground will get better and the recent vote portends a genuine multilateral commitment ot the future of Iraq. America's new UN partners, however, are not yet convinced that the Bush administration is committed to such genuine multilateralism.

I'll continue to keep an eye on the situation.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Clash of civilizations?

As regular readers of this blog know, I think words have consequences. The words leaders use to sell policies can contribute to the success of the policy -- or can incite opponents to rise up to assure its failure. In any case, I regularly report and analyze the words used by President Bush, members of his administration, or supporters in the media or think tanks.

Yesterday, the LA Times reported about a troubling series of comments by Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.

These are the key paragraphs (note: Mark A. R. Kleiman had the link, but the blogs I read haven't really said anything about this yet):
Yet the former commander and 13-year veteran of the Army's top-secret Delta Force is also an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform and polished jump boots before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States "because we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian ... and the enemy is a guy named Satan."

Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, "I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."

"We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this," Boykin said last year.

On at least one occasion, in Sandy, Ore., in June, Boykin said of President Bush: "He's in the White House because God put him there."
George W. Bush, remember, took a lot of political heat for saying something similarly stupid in the week following the 9/11 attacks. He said (this from the BBC), "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a long time." Osama bin Laden tells his potential recruits that they are fighting against crusaders and Jews.

The Christian Science Monitor reported at the timethat the President's remark "recalled the barbarous and unjust military operations against the Muslim world," by Christian knights. The Monitor was quoting Soheib Bensheikh, Grand Mufti of the mosque in Marseille, France, who added that the statement "was most unfortunate."

Paris daily newspaper Le Monde, according to the same article, editorialized that the comment had the "air of a clash of civilizations, there is a strong risk that it will contribute to Osama bin Laden's goal: a conflict between the Arab-Muslim world and the West."

Critics are making much the same point now about Boykin's rhetoric. Back to the LA Times story from yesterday:
"The first lesson is to recognize that whatever we say here is heard there, particularly anything perceived to be hostile to their basic religion, and they don't forget it," said Stephen P. Cohen, a member of the special panel named to study policy in the Arab and Muslim world for the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy.

"The phrase 'Judeo-Christian' is a big mistake. It's basically the language of Bin Laden and his supporters," said Cohen, president of the Institute for Middle East Peace and Development in New York.
President Bush ended up retracting his statement and Boykin will probably be pressured to stop expressing his beliefs publicly -- at least while he's in a position of authority. Part of his job means cooperating with Muslem leaders to garner information useful in the war on terrorism. The US certainly doesn't want to tick off those states any more than it already has

I've seen a CNN broadcast about this story and the LA Times says NBC has it too. It's likely going to be all over the newspapers and in other media throughout the Muslem world. The administration can distance itself from the remarks, impose censorship in Iraqi media, but ultimately cannot prevent comments like these from inflaming greater anti-American feeling.

As the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday, the Muslem world is already quite paranoid about the Judeo-Christian axis. The prime minister of Malaysia, Mahatir Mohammad told the recent Islamic summit:
"They succeeded in gaining control in most of the [world's] powerful states, and they – a tiny community – became a world power. But 1.3 billion Muslims must not be defeated by a few million Jews. A way must be found."
It would be much easier to get upset about this sort of paranoid and divisive language coming from the Muslem world when American generals serving in top Pentagon posts aren't making quite similar remarks.

As my academic colleague Marc Lynch has written, the world really needs to pursue a "dialogue of civilisations" rather than a "clash of civilizations." His Millennium journal article isn't available on-line, but those interested can read his recent piece in Foreign Affairs, "Taking Arabs Seriously." Here's the abstract:
The Bush administration's tone-deaf approach to the Middle East reflects a dangerous misreading of the nature and sources of Arab public opinion . Independent, transnational media outlets have transformed the region, and the administration needs to engage the new Arab public sphere that has emerged.

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Latest in the "war on terror"

Critics of the UN, many of whom are Bush supporters, often point out the weak (and often perverse) symbolic moves made by the UN. States like Iraq or Libya, because the only membership requirement is sovereigny, sometimes (quite dubiously) get to chair commissions on disarmament or human rights.

These same critics often ignore the genuinely good and quite significant actions taken by the UN. The WHO, for example, played a huge role in wiping out malaria and thereby helped saved millions of lives.

So, was today's unanimous UN Security Council vote more like stupid symbolism or genuine positive action?

Media talking heads keep refering to it as "the US-backed resolution," but the US had to make many, many concessions to gain unanimous support. The US, in short, didn't bring a lot of states around to its position. Those states gained real changes they wanted and then held their noses and voted for it. Because, after all, they did not support the war and don't want to help the US very much in its occupation of Iraq.

The somewhat dated NY Times story (registration required) makes this quite clear:
But in a serious reservation, they [Germany, France and Russia] said they would not go beyond the support they had already agreed upon in order to ease the burden of the American forces in Iraq.
In short, the US has gained a piece of paper in exchange additional troops or cash.

That's a win for the "US-backed resolution"?

Actually, I think this is a balanced resolution to the current disagreement -- though I side with the Europeans on the likely final outcome. Ultimately, the UN is going to have to take much greater control in Iraq's "nation-building" and I support this first step toward making that possible. However, as I've often argued, the US is going to have to make even more concessions, and ultimately the Iraqis are going to have to be in charge of their own reconstruction. And that doesn't mean Pentagon selected former exiles should be put in charge.

This resolution asks those formed exiled Iraqis to come up with a plan for a constitution and elections by December 15. In other words, the Europeans wanted a timetable for legitimate government and they got one. It is a weak start, but it is a start.

In any case, it will be interesting to see if administration spokespersons will be out in full force touting this resolution, perhaps trying to point to it as evidence that they were right about Iraq all along.

If so, let's hope the media counter by asking whether the resolution will mean cash and troops. After all, the UN does a lot of foolish and symbolic things that administration supporters love to note.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Tragic metaphor

Imagine an art movie that includes this scene:

A woman (known to the audience as a former Miss America), driving a sports utility vehicle, accidentally collides with and kills a German bicyclist at an intersection of two city streets.

Would you think that the writer/director was a little over the top?

Well, I probably would, even though I really dislike SUVs.

Americans, as the world knows, have access to very cheap gas and drive huge gas-guzzling SUVs (even in cities and suburbs).

Germans, by contrast, pay high gas taxes on the fuel for their cars and generally do not drive SUVs.

In global terms, as I've noted before, George W. Bush pulled the US out of the Kyoto process, even as Germany has taken a lead role in fighting global warming.

In any case, this past weekend, the accident I described as hypothetical actually happened in Louisville, Kentucky. Former Miss America Heather French Henry (she's married to the state's Lt. Governor) said that the sun was in her eyes and so she did not see the German biker.

I might point out that Heather French Henry is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and may have had trouble seeing while driving her huge SUV -- sun in her eyes or not. The news stories point out that the biker was not wearing a helmut and apparently was crossing the street against the light, while Henry was making a turn with a protected arrow.

Thus, no charges are going to be filed. It was simply a terrible accident.

If gas cost between $3-4 per gallon, Americans would drive many fewer SUVs and could think about committing to Kyoto. There was an interesting article last week in the Christian Science Monitor explaining how a bunch of states are moving forward on this issue without Washington.

I hope they succeed.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Myth-making about Iraq

Over at Volokh, Randy Barnett recently sent readers to an article in the NRO by Victor Davis Hanson called "Legends of the Fall; More myths about the current war."

Barnett really doesn't blog about it, but I presume he's sympathetic to the argument since he sent his readers to the National Review.

The article is a crock. Shall I count the ways?

1. Hanson makes a big deal of the minimal casualties felt by the US in Afghanistan and Iraq -- comparing the total (he uses 400 deaths, though this doesn't include the 1800 more soldiers seriously wounded) favorably to the 3000 lost on 9/11.

Of course, he doesn't mention innocent Afghan and Iraqi casualties. Many put the Afghan total at 3000 and I've seen estimated Iraq casualties in the 7-8 thousand range as well. It is unhelpful that the Pentagon makes virtually no effort to document them.

Oddly, Hanson does mention 1000 Iraqi deaths associated with Bill Clinton's bombing of Iraq. Funny how he counts dead Iraqis for partisan purposes only.

2. Hanson claims:
In fact, those who employ terror of the type that culminated (rather than began) on September 11 are real people with real government backing. They cannot operate without money, havens, and at least passive complicity.
Yet, there is widespread dispute about the degree of complicity. Hanson specifically points to Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, so he is clearly worried about both indirect support and terrorists that do not primarily target the US. Indeed, he mentions Hezbollah, which is primarily focused on targeting Israel in the hope of creating an independent Palestine.

Arguably, the way to address this problem is via negotiated settlement, not war.

I'm all for focusing more attention on Saudi Arabia, but the administration isn't on board with that and I do not mean we should attack them.

Doesn't anyone want to talk about other means of countering terrorism?

Do we really want a war with Iran? Former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (for Bush's father) told the BBC earlier this year that he'd support impeachment if Bush next attacked Iran or Syria.

3. Hanson also says the costs have been relatively low, but does not explain who will pay for the $100 billion in reconstruction he guesses is still to come. Remarkably, he estimates the costs of 9/11 at $1 Trillion -- so you know he's being somewhat dishonest with his numbers. This is clearly a partisan attempt to downplay the potential costs of rebuilding poor nations and overstating the effects of 9/11 so as not to blame the recession on policies of the current administration.

I wonder if Hanson would have argued to reject the recall of Gray Davis because 9/11 had inadvertently destroyed California's economy and created a huge budget deficit?

4. Hanson then addresses war dissent and notes the lack of "sit-ins, daily demonstrations, and teach-ins...military resistance and the cut-off of funding."

Where was Hanson in February? Seriously, did he notice the millions of people rallying in the streets in the world's major cities? The war, as conventionally defined, is over. Americans and others are not yet protesting the occupation, but I suspect that could happen as the human costs become more clearly evident over the long haul. Moreover, I suspect that the military resistance he's looking for is right before his eyes. The Iraqis killing American soldiers are fighting occupation. As I've said before, self determination is a very powerful idea.

Hanson also pretends that many of the Democrats running for President support the current US policy. He refers to a statement General Clark made before the horrible machinations that lead to the Iraq war (many US allies were likewise safely on board the "war on terror" before about October 2002) and implies that Dean doesn't have an alternative plan; yet, Dean and other Democrats clearly want to get the US out of Iraq as quickly as possible and turn the problem(s) over to the UN.

It's the exact move than France, Germany and Russia are asking in return for their support. Such a changed policy would lead to a UN Security Council resolution that likely means international money for reconstruction and troops from places like India.

Why is the US resisting this? Is it related to the crony capitalism many suspect?

5. Next, Hanson addresses international opposition. He asserts that only a handful of states are peeved at the US ("Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden, Greece, Syria, Palestine, Algeria, and a few other Arab states"), but ignores world opinion surveys that reflect global (not diplomatic) views. The British government doesn't currently reflect British public opinion on this issue, for example, so you know Hanson's view is quite misleading.

Plus, he's already listed a number of America's closest friends. I blogged just the other day about opposition to the US occupation of Iraq by the 57 state Organization of Islamic Countries.

Here's a challenge for people like Hanson. Name 5 countries where public opinion polls show clear support for the US position on Iraq -- either before or after the war.

6. Finally, Hanson ends by attempting to debunk the "WMD crisis" myth.

Except he doesn't debunk it. Instead, Hanson relies upon two highly dubious arguments. First Hanson counts on the fact that we'll learn more in the next year that will make Iraq seem better, rather than worse. Maybe, but David Kay pretty strongly implied that he's unlikely to find any serious ongoing WMD program in Iraq. And he acknowledges that Iraq had no nuclear program whatsoever. None.

So much for the mushroom cloud imagery administration officials like Condi Rice often used to sell the war.

Second, Hanson says that North Korea and Iran will learn a lesson from this crisis and develop their bombs "before invading neighbors or confronting the United States."

What a crock. Does anyone think either state plans to invade neighbors? Deterrence theorists and policymakers have long agreed that nuclear bombs are not useful for offensive invasions. Deterrence works. The US has nukes deployed in South Korea. Why would North Korea risk holocaust for a dubious gain?

The same logic applies to Iran. What precise threat does Iran pose to any neighbors -- or to the US for that matter? Iran does support anti-Israeli terrorism, but it's a huge leap to imagine them moving from funding suicide bombers in Israel to arming terrorists with nuclear bombs to target the US.

And don't forget the lesson I mentioned previously on this blog. Arms control worked in Iraq (the inspectors found and destroyed Iraq's arsenal 1991-1998) and Iran is cooperating with the IAEA even now.

If this is the best PR related to the "war on terror" that the administration's backers can mount, the President is in for a very long year in the run up to the 2004 election.

Monday, October 13, 2003

The spoils of peace

The $87 billion President Bush wants for Iraq, I assume everyone knows, is not for foreign aid. Like the earlier $79 billion package, much of the money will go to Pentagon contractors and other firms that will do work in Iraq and get paid in the US.

Most readers of this blog already know that there are very serious potential problems with the economic rebuilding of Iraq. For example, Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, has received some very nice no-bid contracts related to the war on terror. Last week, the Christian Science Monitor had a good story about possible oversight of this process.

In particular, the story focused on Republican Senator Susan Collins (of Maine), who is worried about the possibility of profiteering and cronyism. The article, for example, mentions the $1.4 billion contract awarded to an Halliburton subsidiary and a $680 million contract awarded to Bechtel after secret bidding. The bids were submitted by just 6 firms that contributed $3.6 million to federal election campaigns, 2/3 to Republicans.

With the Vice President's old firm doing well and new (big) rewards handed over to Republican donors, it is easy to see how some might see crony capitalism at work.

A couple of years ago, Senator Collins helped draft a bill that required competitive bidding for this sort of activity -- but it allowed various loopholes, including one for national security.
"The problem is there is no oversight to see that these exceptions are used appropriately," she says. As chairman of the committee she once worked for, Collins wants those loopholes closed. Her "sunshine rule," cosponsored with Sen. Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon, was approved by the Senate as an amendment to President Bush's $87 billion request for Iraq.

Recently, Josh Marshall blogged about the new lobby firm, New Bridge Strategies, that is positioning itself to connect US clients to the multibillion Iraq package. The firm's principles include Bush's 2000 campaign manager Joe Allbaugh (he was also Bush's cheif-of-staff when W. was Texas Governor). The Looters with Limos (I love that name)blog was also on to this story at an early date.

My friend Pete Dombrowski has been studying security-related economic issues for a long time and he knows much more about this issue than I do. He gave a talk about various military-commerical linkages in May that is available on the internet.

In the long section that I am going to quote, he suggests that these economic relationship could help perpetuate some of the false threats that I've been blogging about in relation to specific contexts, such as the war on terror and Iraq. He certainly advocates healthy skepticism:
Large multibillion defense contractors from Lockheed Martin to Boeing to Northrop Grumman also help the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and the Marines explore their understanding of the future. Using complex computer programs, futuristic facilities, and the expertise of retired officers and officials, the military has a great deal of help from its counterparts in the military industrial complex We as taxpayers pay dearly for such assistance, but it can be difficult to tell whether we get what we truly need for our tax dollars.

Without necessarily impugning the motives and patriotism of the men and women who participate in planning activities of all sorts, the potential conflicts of interest are clear. Who, after all, has the most to gain from envisioning a conflict-ridden world twenty years in the future, complete with heavily armed, aggressive adversaries working tirelessly against American interests? Who, after all, has an interest in developing expensive new technologies (stealth, precision-guided munitions, directed energy weapons and the like) to meet unforeseen but dangerous, "asymmetric" threats? Of course, the military has a stake in not being caught off-guard, unprepared for catastrophic threats to the physical security of Americans. But industry too, has a stake. It has a stake in selling as much of the most advanced equipment available as is possible. The future shocks always predicted for just over the horizon may turn out to be schlock as we discover that the assumptions and technologies underlying our most complex military planning processes may be deeply flawed or at a minimum blind to basic truths. For ordinary citizens, the point is to remain skeptical about both the challenges that face our country and the ways in which our experts tell us we can meet and defeat potential threats.

Did I mention that Pete works for the US Navy?

Sunday, October 12, 2003

Sunday service

Today, I accepted two invitations to church services. Since one of my kids was singing at a Presbyterian church and the other was reading in a Baptist service, how could I decline?

In any case, the services reminded me of just how progressive people of religious faith can be. When journalists interested in politics write about faith, however, they regularly focus on so-called "fundamentalists" or perhaps merely "religious conservatives." There are, of course, notable exceptions -- like this recent piece in The Washington Monthly from Amy Sullivan. Sullivan argues that a successful Democrat in 2004 will have to appeal to people of faith.

Do not be afraid.

Clearly, if one takes Christianity seriously, many important progressive values are deeply embedded in it. The two services I saw today focused on peace and justice.

The Presbyterians are raising money this month for their church-wide peacemaking efforts. As someone with an interest in that specific argument, I was taken by their efforts to fund non-violent dispute resolution. In his local church's case, they are helping Christians facing various kinds of threats in Indonesia. The practices embraced by Jesus have been echoed in the work of Dr. Martin Luther King and Gandhi; yet, I'm not sure how often these ideas are actually taught in Political Science or related academic disciplines.

Given some new published work, perhaps that will change.

The Baptist service today was taken from Mark 10:17-31. In this verse, Jesus warns an affluent follower that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Talk about a radical progressive!

The pastor leading the service was clearly trying to generate some empathy for the poor and downtrodden. While talking about the particular scripture reading, she referenced a comment by Jesus (in Matthew 22) noting that the second most important Old Testament commandment (after loving God) was to "love your neighbor as yourself." She was also building to the offering, but I'm not going to be cynical today.

After a quick web search, I found this relatively old (2000) article from Richard Parker in The American Prospect. In this piece, Parker makes arguments similar to some I've made above -- and makes many more. Check it out:
In an era when progressive voices seem few in number, when many progressive organizations struggle to meet payrolls, let alone advance agendas, America's progressive religious world represents a large body of committed and caring human beings--deeply bound, out of their own understanding of the connection between justice and the divine--who seek a world most of us could generously affirm.

Like the rest of us, they struggle with their own limitations, their own internal conflicts and weaknesses. Yet time and again at crucial moments in American history, these same communities have risen up to resist abuses of human dignity and justice in the world around them.

Progressives acknowledge that they have to build linkages within a wider community to achieve their goals. Environmentalists, union members, human (and civil) rights activists, feminists and others already work together towards common ends. It would be productive, I suspect, to more overtly attempt to engage progressives of faith.

Perhaps this would create a pathway whereby President Bush could be confronted on his own terms. How can someone who so publicly embraces his faith -- the same faith of peace and justice I've described -- so regularly pursue policies that bring war (even though he speaks of peace) and regressive redistribution of wealth?

It is an important question.

Saturday, October 11, 2003 is bigger than the Coalition of the Willing

Remember the University of Maryland study (from PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes) released on October 2, 2003? Lots of bloggers (like Calpundit) noted its finding that Fox News viewers had more misperceptions about the Iraq war than those who received their news from other media outlets.

One major misperception was that most of the world agreed with the war against Iraq. The truth was that the Coalition of the willing including Britain, Spain, Italy, Australia and a bunch of weak states. Most of the world openly or silently backed critical states like France, Germany, and Russia.

In any case, one way the falsehood was perpetuated, perhaps, was that administration sources kept mentioning how large and impressive the coalition was -- some even implying that it was stronger than the one behind the Persian Gulf War (despite the fact that the earlier war was funded 2/3 by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and much of the rest was paid by Germany and Japan).

Anyway, I wonder if Fox viewers will pick up the news story about one large group of states that is pretty clearly not supportive of America's war and occupation.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has 57 state members and is currently meeting in Malaysia.

According to the BBC, secretary-general Abdelouahed Belkeziz led off by calling for the US (and other members of the Coalition of the Willing) to get out of Iraq.
Addressing the start of the conference on Saturday, Mr Belkeziz said of all the conflicts involving Muslims, the occupation of Iraq and the Palestinian problem needed to be addressed most urgently.

"Foremost of these is the eviction of foreign forces from Iraq, allowing the United Nations to administer Iraqi affairs,"
He told senior officials the Islamic world had been "in the face of the storm" in the three years since the last triennial summit in 2000.

As far as Iraq was concerned, he said the people there had "been afflicted by the occupation of their territories, usurpation of their sovereignty, denial of their independence, destruction, plunder and burning of their country".

He called for Islamic commitment to address the situation following the US-led invasion "with a view to salvaging Iraq and helping its people".

The OIC was formed in 1969 and its summit is going to be attended by leaders from 35 Islamic states. Russia's Putin is also going to attend, as will Kofi Annan (this info from the Reuters story).

It's a big deal.

And many, many of those states are very unhappy with the American occuption of Iraq.

Next week, we will know if they manage to pass some sort of resolution against the occupation. Turkey will be opposed, but who else?

Friday, October 10, 2003

Bush sends his regrets?

Around 1 pm ET today, David Gergen was on CNN talking about the Thomas DeFrank piece in today's NY Daily News. Gergen went out of his way to describe DeFrank as close to the Bush White House and particularly well informed about the Pentagon.

Obviously, there's been a lot of talk about the latest Iraq-related policy (and PR) move by the administration. However, Gergen implies there is much more going on than merely the rise of Condi Rice and the relative decline of Rumsfeld (Atrios thinks the Defense Secretary could be gone later today...).

So far, I cannot find any stories on about the segment, but Gergen was strongly implying that the President has a lot of regrets about Iraq policy.

DeFrank's story begins by declaring that Powell and Rumsfeld are going to be out of jobs soon (whether Bush is reelected or not) because Bush is unhappy with his foreign policy team:
President Bush's overhaul of his top Iraq strategists reflects deep unhappiness with his national security team - particularly Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld but also Secretary of State Powell, Bush sources told the Daily News yesterday.

Bush's displeasure means that neither Powell nor Rumsfeld will keep his job in a second Bush term, the sources said.
Very important, especially for Gergen, is that the root of the displeasure is postwar Iraq (and Afghanistan):
"The President feels let down," one well-placed source told The News. "He feels as if Rumsfeld was unwilling to come and get help [for the postwar effort] and thinks his inability to trust anyone other than his immediate subordinates created a serious, ongoing problem in both Afghanistan and Iraq."

Moreover, the source added, "After the war, Rumsfeld wanted to get back to [Pentagon] modernization and transformation and took his eye off the ball."
I'm not sure what to make of Gergen's angle. If Bush has regrets, why are Dick Cheney, Rice and the President going out of their way to play up threats this week?

Oh, oh, oh, I know. They don't regret going into Iraq without very many real allies or occupying Iraq without a clear rebuilding plan.

They regret that they have been unable to keep everyone focused on the big picture (i.e., the "war on terrorism"), especially since war is best sold by playing up threats.

As the President said yesterday:
"Yet wars are won on the offensive -- and our friends and America are staying on the offensive....After all the action we have taken, after all the progress we have made against terror, there is a temptation to think the danger has passed.

The terrorists continue to plot and plan against our country and our people. America must not forget the lessons of September 11th. (Applause.) America cannot retreat from our responsibilities and hope for the best. Our security will not be gained by timid measures. Our security requires constant vigilance and decisive action. I believe America has only one option: We must fight this war until the work is done.

So far, in Iraq, they've found a test tube of a common toxin and 2 mobile facilities that neither the DIA nor State Department intell people think were designed for making biological weapons. They also discovered fuel for firing SCUDS. Stop me when you start to get worried about this stuff.

Russia has much worse WMD-related material left over from the cold war that is barely guarded and both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have produced many more fanatically committed potential terrorists with access to money (and conceivably WMD).

Yet, these states are partners, not targets, of the war on terror.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

"Deny, deny, deny"

Josh Marshall wrote today that he is suspicious about Scott McClellan's denials that either Scooter Libby or Elliot Abrams leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media.

Marshall is concerned because McClellan uses the same phrase over and over again and does not explicitly say that they did not leak Plame's name. McClellan says that neither was "involved in leaking classified information."

I did some hunting around on the web and found a story at Slate by Jack Shafer that might reflect White House spin on this issue, essentially providing a way for these guys to deny the specific charge without lying. Here's what Shafer wrote:
The problem with the Intelligence Identities Protection Act is that it doesn't appear to apply to the Novak case. To win a conviction, the law requires, among other things:

1) That the individual has or had "authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent." If Novak's administration sources had only unauthorized access to the information about covert officer Plame, learning about her identity and her mission, say, in a hallway conversation from a visiting CIA officer, the law wouldn't apply here. Perhaps they might go after the hypothetical CIA officer, but they'd run in to a slew of other legal problems sketched out below.

David Corn wrote, additionally, about a Newsweek claim that there's a NSC staffer who knew of Plame's identity because he or she previously worked closely with Plame. If White House insiders started talking about Plame's work and her marriage to Wilson, and then someone unauthorized to have the information went to Novak and other members of the media, then that person is as innocent of "leaking classified information" as Novak is.

This, perhaps, is their theory of the case. Daniel Drezner seems to buy some approximation, emphasizing the apparent lack of criminal/malevolent intent.

Then again, I'd think the NSC staffer would be guilty of the felony.

However, the second criterion is about the leaker's intentions. Back to Shafer:
2) That in addition to having had authorized access to the information about the covert agent, the individual must have "intentionally" disclosed it to an individual not authorized to receive classified information.

The NSC staffer could be protected by this requirement, perhaps figuring that someone like Libby, Rove, Abrams (or whoever) had authorization to know the information. Or, that person might even say the leak was inadvertent.

Here's the third requirement, again from Shafer:
3) That the individual knew he was disclosing information that identifies a "covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States."
Shafer says that the administration officials might be able to claim that the US was not trying hard to conceal the agent's identity for a future assignment. Or, the person(s) who went to the media without first hand knowledge could claim not to have known that Plame's CIA job was a secret. This might be why people like Novak are now trying to say that Plame-Wilson's identity was not secret. It was common knowledge on the cocktail circuit, or some such thing.

McClellan's parsing thus works out for people like Libby, Abrams or Rove, if they claim only that they did not have authorization to know of the classified information. By the time they heard about it, by definition, the info was not secret anymore. Someone else had spilled the beans. Again, the leaker is as innocent as Novak, at least before the law.

The NSC staffer would be technically guilty of leaking information, but probably did not have intent -- evinced by the fact that the person did not go running to the media.

So, someone in the press needs to push the relatively small group of suspects on the key question. Did you leak Plame's name or confirm her job?

The "classified information" angle is clearly a clever plot -- but I'm not buying McClellan's answer. In this view, the guys who had intent were leaking classified information, even if they didn't have authorized access to it.

Additionally, the administration has used that spin to widen the scope of the investigation so far that the President can express lament that the leaker may well never be caught. Why question the dozen likely suspects when 100s of people can be bothered to show their phone and email logs?