Monday, September 29, 2003

So what are we spending $87 billion on?

Rich Procter breaks it down: (the following totals are real line items in the proposed $87 billion aid for Iraq request)

"A MESSAGE from our beloved President, the Honorable (?) George W. Bush

Hey, y'all! How're ya doin'! (Those of you that still have jobs, that is.) Ya know, when I was runnin' for President - not that I've ever actually STOPPED running, but y'all know what I mean - I had a great hoot n' holler line - "We Republicans never forget it's YOUR MONEY!"

So how am I spendin' YOUR MONEY? You'll be happy to know that I'm gonna carpet-bomb Iraq with it! Man, we're gonna give those freedom-loving dune goons everything but their own luxury-box filled baseball stadium - ya know, like the one the fine folks o' Texas bought for me! Maybe all this charity will get 'em to stop shooting at us! Ya think?

Here's where I'm sending YOUR tax dollars, friends! This is GREAT...

100 MILLION BUCKS to build seven planned communities with 3,258 houses, plus roads, an elementary school, two high schools, a clinic, a place of worship and a market for each - hey, them ExxonMobil and Halliburton executives gotta have SOMEPLACE to live, doncha know!

900 MILLION BUCKS to IMPORT petroleum products...hmmm, that's gotta be a mistake...no, sez right here. I thought the whole reason we invaded, er, LIBERATED that place was the damn oil. Make note to self - ask Cheney why we're bringing them oil.

400 MILLION BUCKS to build two 4,000 bed prisons at $50,000 a bed! See, I got COMPASSION for them Iraqi prisoners, I want them to suffer in someplace nice.

20 MILLION BUCKS for a four week business course, $10,000 per student, so them ignorant towel-heads can become entrepreneurial free-market capitalist icons, just like me and Rummy and Cheney! Hey, and I know a whole bunch of guys who used to work at Enron who need the work! They'd be the perfect ones to teach this thing!

54 MILLON BUCKS for a study on how to set up an American style postal system, with zip codes and EVERYTHING! We all know how well the U.S. Postal system works - now we can share some of that good ol' American know-how with our new friends - and when it breaks down, the folks who took that business course can run the FedEx franchise!

HERE'S THE BEST PART, friends and neighbors! I'm not just giving YOUR MONEY to any damn body! I'm givin' it to Cheney's buds over at HALLIBURTON, and - you'll love this. One o' my best Republican buds, Joe Allbaugh - he was my Chief of Staff back in Texas, and my campaign manager in 2000, has started his own damn company, called "New Bridge Strategies LLC." I figure if I shovel enough of YOUR MONEY his way, things in Iraq just gotta get better! He's committed to...oh damn, where's that cool brochure...ahhhh, here it is..."expediting the creation of free and fair markets and new economic growth in Iraq, consistent with the policies of the Bush Administration." Yep, JoJo's the man to bring in all that oil and concrete for those wacky Iraqis. "

Thursday, September 25, 2003

"Arm yourself with knowledge!!"

So how does the average citizen get informed about world events? Watch the McNews on TV, read papers or go to any of thousands internet news sites? If I'm a betting man, I would say that the average person catches glimpses of headlines on their paper before going to the sports section and catches the TV news. How about the President? Does he pour over volumes of newspapers from around the world, gauging world opinion through trends and events? Nope....according to this transcript of his interview with Brit Hume on Fox news, he is told by his staff just how the world is doing:

"HUME: How do you get your news?

BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything."

"I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.

HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...

BUSH: Practice since day one.

HUME: Really?

BUSH: Yes. You know, look, I have great respect for the media. I mean, our society is a good, solid democracy because of a good, solid media. But I also understand that a lot of times there's opinions mixed in with news. And I...

HUME: I won't disagree with that, sir.

BUSH: I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news. And the best way to get the news is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

First, I'm not even sure just what the "beautiful face" part even meant, but yep, the most objective sources are folks who want to reassure the President that, indeed, the world does like us, and don't pay attention to all those folks who say that your staff has made mistakes.....I don't know about anyone else out there, but my boss certainly doesn't rely on just what I tell her!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Comics and the Movies....

Now who out there would have ever guessed that American Splendor would be made into a movie? Sure, most folks have heard of Spider-Man, the Hulk and so on...but American Splendor? I think that this is a great trend: graphic works that have been out of the mainstream but have had their own loyal following being brought to folks that might not otherwise pick up comic works......I know Art Spiegelman has said before that he has turned down offers to make Maus into a movie, and perhaps he's right about that, but I think there are enough talented filmmakers out there to treat Maus with respect while transforming it into a movie.

What is around the next corner? Maybe Bode's Cheech Wizard!

Thursday, September 18, 2003

OK, just what is Rove up to here?

With the war in Iraq plodding along and hanging onto public support by a tenuous thread because a majority of the public believes that Saddam was indeed behind 9/11, Bush comes out and says that "there was no proof tying Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks."

In this L.A. Times story, Greg Miller writes:

"WASHINGTON — President Bush said Wednesday that there was no proof tying Saddam Hussein to the Sept. 11 attacks, amid mounting criticism that senior administration officials have helped lead Americans to believe that Iraq was behind the plot.

Bush's statement was the latest in a flurry of remarks this week by top administration officials after Vice President Dick Cheney resurrected a number of contentious allegations about Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda in an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

"We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the September 11th," Bush said in an impromptu session with reporters. He contended, however, that "there's no question that Saddam Hussein had Al Qaeda ties."

This is a very unusual clarification of issues on which this Administration was very vague on before and during the current war in Iraq.

"Bush's comments were his most direct on the issue to date. He drew a clear distinction between alleged Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda and the lack of evidence of Iraqi involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. That is a distinction administration officials did not emphasize in the months before the war.

The issue has come to a head amid recent polls showing that most Americans believe — despite the lack of evidence — that Hussein was somehow involved in the attacks."

There never was any clear statement by this Administration that Saddam was involved with 9/11, but they sure did their best to lead the American public down that road in order to garner our unquestioning support for unilateral action in Iraq. There was no doubt that our Country was in shock from 9/11, possibly we still are, enough to seek our revenge with little justification.

"The latest, an August survey by the Washington Post, found that 69% of Americans believed Iraq was "likely" behind the attacks.

Polling experts say the numbers reflect the strong animosity many Americans have felt toward Hussein since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

"The American public has always been prepared to think the worst of Saddam Hussein," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. "They think he's a dangerous guy, and he comes from the Mideast, where the people who are dedicated to hurting us come from, and [their belief that he was behind Sept. 11] is less conviction than, 'Yeah, probably.' "

Any good advertising executive can tell you that if you mention two unrelated topics in the same sentence or paragraph often enough, people will link them together.

"In a key speech in Cincinnati in October, the president said: "We know that Iraq and the Al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy — the United States of America. We know that Iraq and Al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade."

After Hussein's regime was toppled, Bush reinforced the perception of a link between the two in his May 1 speech aboard an aircraft carrier off San Diego, saying, "We've removed an ally of Al Qaeda."

Critics argue that such juxtapositions encouraged people to tie Hussein to Sept. 11.

"It was the close association in the same thought, the same sentence, that led to that incorrect conclusion," said Greg Thielmann, a former senior intelligence official at the State Department who retired last year. "And I think it was done with great skill and deliberation."

Is Iraq totally innocent of these links? Of course not, but the question isn't whether there there were some contacts, the question is whether or not Saddam was directly connected with 9/11. Our President says no.....

"To be sure, there is evidence of some contact between Hussein's government and Al Qaeda. An Al Qaeda affiliate, Abu Musab Zarqawi, operated from Baghdad, where a cell he controlled orchestrated the killing of a U.S. diplomat last year, according to U.S. intelligence officials."

Monday, September 15, 2003

Another brick in the wall.....

You don't have to look far for comprehensive lists of the WMD justifications for war....Google will gladly serve up thousands of websites where all of the quotes have been archived. The upcoming Kay report was supposed to offer up actual hard proof of the WMD's.......but in this article Iraq WMD report shelved due to lack of evidence , this report may not even be published:

"London: After failing to get any evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the US and Britain have decided to delay indefinitely the publication of a full report on the controversial issue, media reported today.

Efforts by the Iraq Survey Group, an Anglo-American team of 1,400 scientists, military and intelligence experts, to scour Iraq for the past four months to uncover evidence of chemical or biological weapons have so far ended in failure, The Sunday Times claimed in its report.

It had been expected that a progress report would be published tomorrow but MPs on the British Parliaments security and intelligence committee have been told that even this has been delayed and no new date set.

British defence intelligence sources have confirmed that the final report, which is to be submitted by David Kay, the survey groups leader, to George Tenet, head of the CIA, had been delayed and may not necessarily even be published, the paper said."

I'm not sure at what point in time, if ever, this Administration will admit that it has been misled by Iraqi exiles for their own personal power-grab......

The wisdom of George the First......

Here's an interesting excerpt from "A World Transformed," by George H.W. Bush and Brent Scowcroft, written in 1998 and referencing Gulf War I:

"Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible. We had been unable to find Noriega in Panama, which we knew intimately. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different--and perhaps barren--outcome. "

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Keep your eye on the card.........

Perhaps one of the most disappointing things about the current Administration is the amazing sleight-of-hand prowess they display........in typical three-card Monte fasion: OK, here's the WMD card, now I'll place it here...where did it go? Here? Nope, now it's a flypaper card!

In a nice piece in the NY Times, Paul Krugman comments on Bush's September 8th speech:

"It's now clear that the Iraq war was the mother of all bait-and-switch operations. Mr. Bush and his officials portrayed the invasion of Iraq as an urgent response to an imminent threat, and used war fever to win the midterm election. Then they insisted that the costs of occupation and reconstruction would be minimal, and used the initial glow of battlefield victory to push through yet another round of irresponsible tax cuts.

Now almost half the Army's combat strength is bogged down in a country that wasn't linked to Al Qaeda and apparently didn't have weapons of mass destruction, and Mr. Bush tells us that he needs another $87 billion, right away. It gives me no pleasure to say this, but I (like many others) told you so. Back in February I asked, "Is this administration ready for the long, difficult, quite possibly bloody business of rebuilding Iraq?" The example of Afghanistan (where warlords rule most of the country, and the Taliban — remember those guys? — is resurgent) led me to doubt it. And I was, alas, right."


"Meanwhile, the administration is still counting on Iraq's receiving billions of dollars in aid from other countries. Unless the U.S. makes major concessions, forget about it."

In what has been repeated endlessly, so many advisors (including George bush Sr.) were telling BushCo. before this war that there has to be a true coalition of the willing (not a coalition of the billing, as we tried to do) involved with Iraq, not for credibility alone, but to share the costs of rebuildiing not only the crap we blew up, but everything that Saddam built on the cheap. In Gulf War I, we shouldered about 10% of that conflict's costs. Iraq's oil was supposed to more than cover the costs of this war, and that's why I'm gusessing BushCo. didn't want to share any of the expected burdens - they probably thought that not only could they win a war, but that they could make a tidy profit off of the oil revenues as well.

"But the most important concession Mr. Bush should make isn't about money or control — it's about truth-telling. He squandered American credibility by selling a war of choice as a war of necessity; if he wants to get that credibility back, he has to start being candid.

Yet in the speech on Sunday he was still up to his usual tricks. Once again, he made a rhetorical link between the Iraq war and 9/11. This argument by innuendo reminds us why 69 percent of the public believes that Saddam was involved in 9/11, despite a complete absence of evidence. (There is, on the other hand, strong evidence of a Saudi link — but the administration's handling of that evidence borders on a cover-up.) And rather than acknowledge that the search for W.M.D. has come up empty, he declared that Saddam "possessed and used weapons of mass destruction" — 1991, 2003, what's the difference?"

In a really fantastic book that you should pick up, "Weapons of Mass Deception," the authors refer to the fact that all advertisers know - that the truth is just as accurate as what you are being told. In other words, you can easily tie cause and effect together in a well-crafted speech by using inferred connections, rather than any actual evidence to support the claim. It has been done to sell you drinks, cigarettes, cars and now a war.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

The full story......

.....about the events that preceded 9/11, and the events on that day may never be fully known. As this nation moves forward from the shock of that day, we may be better able to investigate 9/11. There are thousands of potential leads, witnesses etc. to fill up hundreds of reporters' notebooks. The ease at which to bring up individual news items of that day are almost mind-boggling in today's age of internet caches. For example, check out the following three links on events that preceded 9/11 and the day of the terrorist strikes. They are exhaustive in their detail, but I feel that, in order to fully understand the links between people and events, we must learn as much as we can about past events. It often seems there is a link between power, greed and disaster...........with us average folks caught in the middle.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Caution, revisionist historians at work.......

As the nation gets ready to watch the Showtime version of Bush's actions on 9/11, I thought I better pass along these two web pages:

1) This is video taken at the Emma Booker Elementary School while Bush was listening to children read.......compare this video with the Showtime version....

2) This is the timeline of that day, complied from various news sources....

Two things are ironic upfront about this Showtime production.....one, it was filmed in Canada, no doubt providing much needed jobs for our friends up north, and the actor portraying Bush is none other that Timothy Bottoms, who also portrayed Bush in the Comedy Central satirical show, "That's My Bush!"

Summing it all up.....

In this essay by Randolph T Holhut entitled 'The schemers who turned 9/11 into a foreign policy disaster,' you get a concise overview of the Iraq conflict's salient points. I've excerpted a few paragraphs below, but please read the entire piece......and remember the acronym "PNAC."

"DUMMERSTON, Vt. - We're two years removed from that tragic September morning of death and destruction in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

As painful as that day was for Americans, little did we know that as the ash and smoke were rising from the pyre that was once the World Trade Center, there were people scheming to take advantage of the tragedy.

Two years ago, few people had heard of a Washington-based neo-conservative think tank called The Project for a New American Century (PNAC). Few knew then about its plans for a global American empire or knew that its alumni - Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby and former Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, among them - had considerable power in the White House.

In the fall of 2000, PNAC issued a report entitled "Rebuilding America's Defense: Strategies, Forces and Resources For A New Century." The PNAC report was mostly a rehash of an earlier strategic proposal drawn up for the Pentagon by Libby and Wolfowitz in the early 1990s. Libby and Wolfowitz envisioned a world where the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy is establishing permanent U.S. military and economic dominance over the Persian Gulf region and any other part of the world where U.S. interests lie.

President George H.W. Bush and the Pentagon rejected the Libby/Wolfowitz report as being too radical. But their ideas never went away. All that was needed was more fertile ground for them to grow. That came with the Republican theft of the 2000 presidential election, which put Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and several other PNAC alums in charge of American foreign policy.

The PNAC vision of a Pax Americana in the Middle East - starting with the ouster of Saddam Hussein and the establishment of an American protectorate in Iraq - might have remained merely a vision. But in the worst case scenario of what happens when ideologues get an opportunity to put their plans into action, the Sept. 11 attacks gave the neo-conservatives the chance they had been waiting for."

"There was no way the PNAC crew could have sold us a war based on its vision of "regime change" in Iraq as the first step toward a peaceful, totally transformed Middle East. And so the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" would became ubiquitous in the news media as President Bush and his underlings lied repeatedly and outrageously about Iraq's military capabilities and the threat they posed to the U.S."

"The invasion of Iraq went relatively smoothly. The occupation has been anything but smooth. This is a direct result of the total reliance on the overly optimistic and unrealistic ideas of the PNAC folks in the Bush administration. Chalabi was instantly rejected by Iraqis. Anyone associated with the U.S. occupation has been killed or targeted for death. A civil war with U.S. troops caught in the crossfire seems to be what's ahead in Iraq.

The best possible outcome from what we've seen happen to this nation in the two years since 9/11 would be that Americans would not allow something like this to happen again."

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Ah, for those nostalgic days.....

....of the 2000 presidential campaign! Do you remember when George Bush connected with folks who believed in the strength of humility and partnership? His campaign promises revolved around the notions that "the US cannot tell the world how to act," "our troops cannot be used in nation-building" and then there's this gem: "I will be a uniter, not a divider...." All of this was just talk, as it turned out....

As outlined in this fine piece in Salon (subscribe or watch a brief ad for a free one-day pass), we are reaping what we sowed:

"Would you like some freedom fries with your crow, Mr. President?
Six months after spitting in the face of the world, the Bush administration is crawling on its belly before the U.N. If the world doesn't rush to help it, the White House has only itself to blame.

By Gary Kamiya

Sept. 4, 2003 | Let me make sure I've got this right. After being insulted, belittled and called irrelevant by the swaggering machos in the Bush administration, the United Nations is now supposed to step forward to supply cannon fodder for America's disastrous Iraq occupation -- while the U.S. continues to run the show?

In other words, the rest of the world is to send its troops to get killed so that a U.S. president it fears and despises can take the credit for an invasion it bitterly opposed.

The rest of the world may be crazy, but it ain't stupid.

The Bush administration's humiliating announcement that it wants the U.N. to bail it out officially confers the title of "debacle" upon the grand Cheney-Rove-Wolfowitz adventure. Not even the world-class chutzpah of this administration can conceal the fact that by turning to the despised world body, it is eating a heaping plate of crow. This spectacle may give Bush-bashers from London to Jakarta a happy jolt of schadenfreude, but it does nothing to help Americans who are stuck with the ugly fallout of the Bush team's ill-conceived, absurdly overoptimistic attempt to redraw the Middle East.

The bitter truth is that everything the administration told us about Iraq has turned out to be false.

The biggest falsehood, of course, concerns the reason we went to war in the first place. President Bush's recent hints that we invaded Iraq to get rid of the evil tyrant Saddam are patently false: The administration's entire prewar argument, until it began to grasp desperately for other explanations on the eve of the invasion, was that Iraq represented an imminent threat to our security. That was, of course, a lie. Iraq never had any connection to al-Qaida (not even the ever-serviceable Tony Blair tried to claim that) and if it had weapons of mass destruction -- which in any case there is no reason to believe it would have used against the U.S. -- none have been found. (In this light, Bush's somewhat peculiar attack on "revisionist historians" appears to have been a Freudian slip.)

However, the Bush administration has succeeded in making its fears come true: Iraq now does harbor enemies who represent an imminent threat to the lives of the 140,000 American servicemen who are hunkered down there. By removing Saddam's dictatorial regime, the U.S. turned a nation that borders Saudi Arabia, Iran, Jordan and Syria into a lawless, anarchic swamp, open to every jihadi and America-hater who wants to blow up the Yankee infidels who invaded a sovereign Arab state. A G.I. dies almost every day, and 10 more are wounded, and there is no end in sight, and the reasons why are beginning to seem even murkier than the reasons we were in Vietnam. "

"Bush said the U.N. must sanction his war on Iraq or "become irrelevant." It did not. Yet today he is crawling on his belly to the supposedly irrelevant U.N., begging it to bail him out of the quagmire he created.

The administration said that America was so omnipotent that it could afford to spit in the face of the rest of the world. Indeed, for the ideologues who run the Bush show, flouting our solo might almost seemed to be a sign of God's special favor. Now, having burned our bridges to all of our allies except Britain, the America über alles crowd is reduced to sputtering in rage as the rest of the world -- surprise! -- declines to rush forward with open checkbooks. "

We are now stuck in the position that has no easy answer: admit poor post-war planning, lose face and try to mend fences with old allies or deny that anything really is wrong and go on with blinders, trying to convince everyone that all of this is noble (the new buzzword) and all somehow tied to 9/11 (this should be the new drinking game - next time Bush gives a speech, have a drink every time he mentions "9/11" "noble cause" or "evil"). We have to rebuild Iraq - to do otherwise would be reprehensible...but to do so, our great leaders should do what real leaders do....admit wrongdoing or error, and then correct it.

There's more to the Salon article....go read.....

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

History lesson

Here's a good look through American revolutionary history as it pertains to present-day Iraq:

"The ironies of history are cruel and remorseless.

The military strategy that won us our independence in 1781, has been successfully adopted by our adversaries today, and threatens to be our undoing.

First in Viet Nam and now in Iraq, we are the "Redcoats" - the arrogant super-power from abroad, determined to impose our will on the "natives" by force of arms.

Like the British in 1775, we believe that overwhelming military might guarantees victory. Like the American patriots, and in our time, Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, the Iraqi resistance will likely understand that it is folly to engage the enemy at its strength - by direct encounter in the battlefield. There are other, better, ways to conduct the struggle - tactics that are regarded by the opposing Great Power as "cowardly," and "ungentlemanly," while those who utilize these tactics are called "terrorists."

Recently, as I have taken time to study the American Revolution, I have been struck by the similarities in the conditions and tactics of the "colonial rebels" of our revolution, and of our government's adversaries today.

At the outset, at Lexington and Concord, the Redcoats were infuriated by the rebels' "cowardly" disposition to take cover and fire from behind rocks, trees, and buildings. According to the military conventions of the time, "gentlemen" stood in the open and fired their muskets in ranks and files.

When General Washington "played by the rules" and faced the British army in the fields of Long Island in 1776, he was soundly defeated. It was a mistake that he was not inclined to repeat.

Eighteenth century armies typically "stood down" during the winter, when movement was restricted. By treating the habits and expectations of the enemy as their weakness and as his opportunity, Washington crossed the Delaware River and took Trenton the day after Christmas in 1776."

The role of the Saudis

Immediately after 9/11 there were rumors swirling regarding members of bin Laden's family being flown out of the Country for their own safety. Couple that with the redacted portions of the 9/11 report, and you begin to get the feeling that there is much, much more to the Saudi-US connection. This from The Edinburgh Evening News:

"Bin Laden family's US exit 'approved'


THE United States allowed members of Osama bin Laden’s family to jet out of the US in the immediate aftermath of September 11, even as American airspace was closed.

Former White House counter-terrorism tsar Richard Clarke said the Bush administration sanctioned the repatriation of about 140 high-ranking Saudi Arabians, including relatives of the al-Qaida chief.

"Somebody brought to us for approval the decision to let an aeroplane filled with Saudis, including members of the Bin Laden family, leave the country," he said.

Mr Clarke said he checked with FBI officials, who gave the go ahead. "So I said: ‘Fine, let it happen.’"

He first asked the bureau to check that no-one "inappropriate" was leaving.

"I have no idea if they did a good job," he added.

Dale Watson, the FBI’s former head of counter-terrorism, said that, while the bureau identified the Saudis who were on the plane, "they were not subject to serious interrogations".

The plane is believed to have landed in ten US cities picking up passengers, including Los Angeles, Washington DC, Boston and Houston. At the time, access to US airspace was restricted and required special government approval.

Tom Kinton, director of aviation at Boston’s Logan Airport, said: "We were in the midst of the worst terrorist act in history and here we were seeing an evacuation of the Bin Ladens."

But he said it was clear the flight had been sanctioned by federal authorities.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US who is said to have organised the exodus, met President George Bush on September 13, 2001, two days after the terror attacks. It is not known if they discussed the repatriation plan."

New world disorder......

Maureen Dowd summarizes some of the critical issues with current US foreign policy. If there is to be any hope for world peace, we must move ahead to rebuild old alliances. As the song goes, "we share the same biology, regardless of ideology......"

"The group that started out presuming it could shape the world is now getting shoved by the world.

Our unseen tormentors are the ones who seem canny and organized, not us. As they move from killing individual U.S. soldiers and Iraqis to sabotaging power plants, burning oil pipelines, blowing up mosques, demolishing the U.N. headquarters and now hitting the Baghdad police headquarters, our enemies seem better prepared and more committed to creating chaos in Iraq — and Afghanistan — than we are to creating order.

They've also proved more adept at putting together an effective coalition than the Bush team: a terrifying blend of terrorists from other countries, Al Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam fighters, radical Shiites and Saddam remnants, all pouring into Iraq and united by their hatred of America.

If we review the Bush war council's motives for conquering Iraq, the scorecard looks grim:

• We wanted to get rid of Osama and Saddam and the Taliban and Al Qaeda. We didn't. They're replicating and coming at us like cockroaches. According to Newsweek, Osama is in the mountains of Afghanistan, plotting to use biological weapons against America. If all those yuppies can climb Mount Everest, at 29,000 feet, can't we pay some locals to nab Osama at 14,000 feet?

• Bushies thought freeing Iraq from Saddam would be the first step toward the Middle East road map for peace, as well as a guarantee of greater security for Israel. But the road map blew up, and Israel seems farther away from making peace with the Arabs than ever. The U.S. has now pathetically called on Yasir Arafat to use his power to help after pretending for more than a year that he didn't exist.

• Rummy wanted to exorcise the stigma of Vietnam and prove you could use a lighter, faster force. But our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan may not banish our fears of being mired in a place halfway around the world where we don't understand the language or culture, and where our stretched-thin soldiers are picked off, guerrilla-style.

• The neocons wanted to marginalize the wimpy U.N. by barreling past it into Iraq. Now the Bush administration is crawling back to the U.N., but other nations are suspicious of U.S. security and politics in Iraq.

• Dick Cheney and Rummy wanted to blow off multilateralism and snub what Bushies call "the chocolate-making countries": France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. But faced with untold billions in costs and mounting casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are beginning to see the advantages of sidekicks that know the perils of empire.

• The Pentagon wanted to sideline the C.I.A. and State and run the war and reconstruction itself. Now, overwhelmed, the Pentagon's special operations chiefs were reduced to screening a 1965 movie, "The Battle of Algiers," last week, as David Ignatius reported in The Washington Post, to try to learn why the French suffered a colonial disaster in a guerrilla war against Muslims in Algiers.

• The neocons hoped democracy in Iraq would spread like a fever in the Mideast, even among our double-dealing friends like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. But after the majestic handoff of democracy to the 25-member Iraqi Governing Council, it seems the puppets (now nervous about bodyguards) don't even want to work late, much less govern. As one aide told The Times, "On the Council, someone makes a suggestion, then it goes around the room, with everyone talking about it, and then by that time, it's late afternoon and time to go home."

• The vice president wanted to banish that old 60's feeling of moral ambivalence, of America in the wrong. Our unilateral move in Iraq, with the justifications on W.M.D. and Qaeda links to Saddam getting shakier each month, has made us more hated around the world than ever."

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Inside George Bush

No, we're not talking about a colonoscopy...but here's an excellent piece from The Guardian that delves into our President's psyche; details about how his alcoholism and religious fundamentalism colors his very actions and thoughts.

"As the alcoholic George Bush approached his 40th birthday in 1986, he had achieved nothing he could call his own. He was all too aware that none of his educational and professional accomplishments would have occured without his father. He felt so low that he did not care if he lived or died. Taking a friend out for a flight in a Cessna aeroplane, it only became apparent he had not flown one before when they nearly crashed on take-off. Narrowly avoiding stalling a few times, they crash-landed and the friend breathed a sigh of relief - only for Bush to rev up the engine and take off again. "

When you listen to the unscripted George bush, you get a sense that he really believes he is on a crusade to rid the world of evil; as if it could be that simple.

"Most fundamentalist Christians have authoritarian personalities. Two core beliefs separate fundamentalists from mere evangelists ("happy-clappy" Christians) or the mainstream Presbyterians among whom Bush first learned religion every Sunday with his parents: fundamentalists take the Bible absolutely literally as the word of God and believe that human history will come to an end in the near future, preceded by a terrible, apocaplytic battle on Earth between the forces of good and evil, which only the righteous shall survive. According to Frum when Bush talks of an "axis of evil" he is identifying his enemies as literally satanic, possessed by the devil. Whether he specifically sees the battle with Iraq and other "evil" nations as being part of the end-time, the apocalypse preceding the day of judgment, is not known. Nor is it known whether Tony Blair shares these particular religious ideas.

However, it is certain that however much Bush may sometimes seem like a buffoon, he is also powered by massive, suppressed anger towards anyone who challenges the extreme, fanatical beliefs shared by him and a significant slice of his citizens - in surveys, half of them also agree with the statement "the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word".

Bush's deep hatred, as well as love, for both his parents explains how he became a reckless rebel with a death wish. He hated his father for putting his whole life in the shade and for emotionally blackmailing him. He hated his mother for physically and mentally badgering him to fulfil her wishes. But the hatred also explains his radical transformation into an authoritarian fundamentalist. By totally identifying with an extreme version of their strict, religion-fuelled beliefs, he jailed his rebellious self. From now on, his unconscious hatred for them was channelled into a fanatical moral crusade to rid the world of evil."

We are a product of our parents' upbringing and surroundings......I can see similarities in Dubya's unshaken, if not simplistic view of the world with the alcoholic I grew up with.

A very tangled web......
From The Guardian:

"The Ayatollah: Iraq's archduke?

The killing of an Iraqi Shia leader could be the event that ignites the country's tensions and causes a regional conflagration, writes Brian Whitaker

The worst act of violence in Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein was overshadowed in Britain's broadsheet papers on Saturday by news that Tony Blair's media adviser had resigned.
In the popular tabloids meanwhile, two celebrity stories vied for readers' attention: Madonna's "lesbian" kiss with Britney Spears and the publication of David Beckham's autobiography.

Well, that's journalism. But a few years from now we may look back on the bombing that killed Ayatollah Mohammed Baqr al-Hakim, along with more than 90 other Shia Muslims, as a pivotal event that tipped the balance towards civil war and the disintegration of Iraq.

The killing of Ayatollah Hakim, the country's most prominent Shia cleric, has been likened to murdering the Pope, but it's more serious than that because popes these days have little real influence.

Ayatollah Hakim was also head of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), the leading Shia political organisation. A better comparison would be the murder of the Austrian archduke that sparked the first world war.

Before his return to Iraq in May, the ayatollah had spent more than 20 years in exile in Iran, where I met him last October, in the company of several other British journalists.

Getting to see him was quite a performance. Concrete blocks surrounded his headquarters building in Tehran to keep car bombers away. At the door, we were given thorough body and bag searches by guards who apologised profusely for their intrusion. In fact, he had far more protection than Iranian government ministers, who we were able to meet without anyone taking the slightest interest in our baggage.

Such security was obviously lacking at the Imam Ali mosque in Najaf last Friday - though the Americans say that was out of deference to the site's religious significance.

Ayatollah Hakim had every reason to expect a violent end. One wall in his Tehran headquarters was hung with 20 portraits, each frame adorned with a single red rose. These, an assistant explained, were the Hakim family's leading martyrs - including five of the ayatollah's brothers and six of his nephews. Altogether, 28 of his relatives had been killed by the Iraqi regime and 22 others had disappeared. "

As most folks warned before the war, an invasion of Iraq had a very real possibility of destabilizing the region, with an extended period of occupation hastening the fragmentation:

"The Americans gave their promises not to do such things," the ayatollah said, referring to a meeting he had last August with the US secretary of state, Colin Powell. If the Americans insisted on staying in Iraq, then Sciri, for one, would "make all efforts" to get them out, he added. "

This is a very, very complex and old region, one that has a long history of religious and ethnic conflicts.

"Iraq as a country was stitched together after the first world war, from three incompatible provinces of the old Ottoman Empire: the Arab and Persian Shia of the south and south-east, the Sunni Arabs in the middle and south-west, and the Kurds (who are also Sunnis) in the north.

Although the Sunni Arabs were the smallest of the three groups, Britain decided they should be dominant and installed a king from Saudi Arabia to rule the new country. This arrangement was more for the benefit of Britain's relations with Gulf rulers than for the Iraqis themselves; the difficulty of holding Iraq together was one reason why it ended up with such a brutal dictator as Saddam Hussein.

The underlying religious and ethnic tensions were kept at bay through decades of minority rule. Saddam Hussein suppressed them with utter ruthlessness but also, as the Americans are now learning, with considerable skill.

Fear of opening up a can of worms in Iraq was one of the main reasons why George Bush Sr held back from invading in 1991 after the liberation of Kuwait. Now, though, his son has lifted the lid off. "

Read on...this is a very good article.

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