Tuesday, December 28, 2004
According to the article, we don't know what happened to some stuff. Thus, somebody in some Arab country could be sitting on the most valuable parts of the centrifuges.
Another disquieting fact in the article is the rivalry between the US and the IAEA, who should be cooperating.
There are almost no reporters in Burma, because it is an almost closed society. If a tsunami hits and there is no one to report it, does it actually happen? Similarly, there has been little reporting from Ache, because Ache is in rebellion against the central Indonesia government, and access to reporters there has been limited. It's interesting that two of the hardest hit areas, Sri Lanka and Ache are engaged in civil wars. That certainly makes relief efforts more difficult.
The Australian press has mentioned Burma, with deaths there now estimated at 90. I'm guessing that this number would be much higher if the government of Burma were more cooperative.
Monday, December 20, 2004
According to a National Geographic Desk Reference, the majority of Muslims are Sunnis. It says that 84 percent of Muslims are Sunni, but 90 percent of Iranians are Shiite, and 60 to 65 percent of Iraqis are Shiite. Since the bulk of the Shiites live in Iran and Iraq, it would seem only natural that if the Shiites do well in the Iraq elections, they will form a alliance of some kind with the Shiites in Iran. But because the Sunnis ruled Iraq under Saddam, and because they seem to form a major part of the current insurgency, we are throwing our lot in with the Shiites in Iraq, while we roundly condemn the Shiites who rule Iran. Our elections may have the perverse result of creating an Iraq that is even more opposed to US interests than it was under Saddam, and perhaps will be a greater danger. Don't forget that Iran may actually be developing nuclear weapons, whereas Iraq under Saddam was only pretending to be developing them in recent years.
One important difference is that Brazil probably does not pose a nuclear threat to anyone, even if it develops nuclear weapons, unlike Iran, which poses a threat to Israel, Iraq, and perhaps a few other neighbors. In the old days, when I served in Brazil dealing with the nuclear issue in the American embassy there, Argentina was a nuclear rival with Brazil. Argentina took the lead in defusing this rivalry. Nevertheless, if Brazil developed a bomb, Argentina might feel pressed to develop one, too.
Another important difference is the way safeguards imposed by the IAEA are handled in Brazil and Iran. It appears that Brazil has been much more forthcoming with the IAEA, only imposing the restriction that IAEA inspectors cannot look at the centrifuges. The IAEA can monitor what goes into and comes out of the centrifuges, thus assuring that no uranium is being "highly" enriched. Iran, on the other hand, has been much less cooperative, and the IAEA has had to be much more insistent to find out where the centrifuges are, and then to find out what they are doing.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Although our ignoring the fact that India became a nuclear power, despite the U.S. best efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear proliferation, is good for bilateral U.S.-India relations, it is not good for the worldwide non-proliferation regime. Other countries, Iran and North Korea in particular, will see India's flouting of the non-proliferation regime as evidence that they can do it, too. Already people are saying that the lesson of Iraq (which failed) and India (which succeeded) is that you have to build your atomic bomb before you challenge the U.S., and that this is what North Korea and Iran may be doing.
There are efforts to strengthen and reform the NPT and the IAEA, in particular to get rid of IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei. But these efforts ignore the fact that the NPT and similar treaties require the offending country to join voluntarily. If these countries perceive that the NPT or its successor is entirely one-sided, that it only requires sacrifices by non-nuclear countries and none by nuclear countries, like the U.S., then they will not join. The NPT requires the nuclear countries to negotiate disarmament, but there have been no serious, binding disarmament talks among the nuclear powers for years.
By removing any international opprobrium for going nuclear, and by making nuclear weapons a sign of great power status, the Bush Administration, Ved Nanda and other pro-Indian writers may be clearing the way for Iran, North Korea, and some other countries (Brazil or South Korea, for starters) to become nuclear powers in the near or mid-term future.
A recent interview, reported by AFP, given in South Korea by Indian Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, in which he urged North and South Korea not to follow India's example by becoming nuclear powers, illustrates how confusing this situation has become. "Natwar's N-speak baffles New Delhi," said a front page headline in Thursday's Indian Express. The Express said Singh "virtually expressed regret over India's current nuclear status" and contradicted the stand taken by former Congress premier Rajiv Gandhi who sanctioned in 1989 pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. The newspaper quoted a senior unnamed Indian foreign ministry official as saying Singh's remarks reflected "his personal view."
A clarification issued about a day later, and reported in NewKerala.com said that the Foreign Minister had said (or meant to say) that the two Koreas should not go nuclear because they had signed the NPT, unlike India. India has refused to sign the NPT because it considers it unfairly discriminatory between countries that had nuclear weapons when the NPT was negotiated, like the U.S., and those that did not, like India, which went nuclear too late to be exempted by the treaty.
According to these reports, the FBI got mad when Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin, who had been caught giving sensitive documents to AIPAC, stopped cooperating with the FBI, which has now initiated a grand jury investigation. On December 1, it raided AIPAC offices to search for incriminating information in the offices of several senior AIPAC officials: the FBI seized the hard drives and files of Steven Rosen, director of research, and Keith Weissman, deputy director of foreign policy issues; the FBI also served subpoenas on AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr, managing director Richard Fishman, communications director Renee Rothstein and research director Raphael Danziger.
Monday, December 13, 2004
This would raise questions about both programs. It the bomb was North Korean, does Pakistan have a bomb that works? A Muslim bomb?
If it was North Korean, does that mean that North Korea has actually put its plutonium from reprocessing into bombs?
According to the Carnegie Endowment's book Deadly Arsenals, Pakistan claims to have conducted five tests on May 28, 1998; however, they produced only one seismic signal, which tends to indicate only one explosion, with an indicated yield of 6-13 kilotons. Another test on May 30, 1998, produced a seismic indication of a bomb with a yield of 2-8 kilotons.
The Asia Times article says that the "only" bomb A.Q. Khan exploded in Pakistan was a North Korean bomb, which tends to undercut its theory, since the Carnegie Endowment (and other sources) say Pakistan tested at least two bombs, if not more.
In any case, the allegation strengthens the article's claim that Pakistan's refusal to allow the US (or the IAEA, or some neutral organization) to interrogate A.Q. Khan leaves this issue murky, and the US acceptance of Pakistani stonewalling is a major failure of US non-proliferation policy.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
We have, however, used the Clinton surplus to make a large transfer of wealth to the most wealthy Americans through the Bush tax cuts, and we have given millions to defense contractors, such as Halliburton, for the Iraq War. Unfortunately, the lesson is, don't do the right thing. If you don't spend the Federal Government's money on your constituency, e.g., Clinton on Democratic welfare programs, then the Republicans will take that saved money and spend it on their constituency, i.e., the obscenely wealthy.
It's not unlike a corporate raider taking over a company and then destroying it by selling off its assets for more than he paid for the company. Watch the movie "Pretty Woman" for an elementary lesson in how this works. In the movie, Richard Gere develops a conscience and does the right thing. There is no sign that George Bush has a conscience to develop. He stands only for greed all the way to the bank. Laura Bush, who seems like a decent woman, appears to have less influence over George Bush than Julia Roberts, who plays a whore, has over Richard Gere in the movie.
The fact that evil trumps good in American politics is a bad sign for our future, sort of a Gresham's law of politics. (Note the reference to Aristophanes' "The Frogs" in the Wikipedia link: "So with men we know for upright, blameless lives and noble names. These we spurn for men of brass...." It is exactly the political reference intended here. Unfortunately, if Aristophanes saw it thousands of years ago, it's nothing new; just a bad aspect of human nature.)
Monday, December 06, 2004
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson was less of a failure than Ridge. As a man with some ideas who did not like being jerked around, he probably felt frustrated in his job because he couldn't get any political support for things he thought were important. A hint of that tension with the White House came out in his resignation remarks about the possibility of an attack on the American food supply. It was a strange remark, but it probably was something he had tried unsuccessfully to get the White House to focus on. It may have been a place-holder for Social Security reform, an HHS issue on which Thompson, as an intelligent man, probably disagreed with the White House, but was told not to mention it in public.
Keeping Rumsfeld, who is not a political midget, in the cabinet indicates that he will rule the roost, with no competition from people with stature, like Colin Powell. It may be a portent of the future that Treasury Secretary Snow is on the way out. Snow came in as a midget to replace the outspoken Paul O'Neill, who had served in previous administrations as well as being CEO of Alcoa. Snow was not up to the job. It's doubtful that the new midgets, including Condi Rice, who is afraid to stand up to Rumsfeld, will do much better than Snow.
In his speech to the German Reichstag on April 28, 1939, Hitler said:
Mr. Roosevelt declares that it is clear to him that all international problems can be solved at the council table.
As Hitler noted, attacks by powerful countries on the weakness of international institutions, such as the League of Nations and the United Nations, are self-fulfilling prophecies.
I would be very happy if these problems could really find their solution at the council table. My skepticism, however, is based on the fact that it was America herself who gave sharpest expression to her mistrust in the effectiveness of conferences. For the greatest conference of all time was League of Nations . . . representing all the peoples of the world, created in accordance with the will of an American President. The first State, however, that shrank from the endeavor was the United States . . . It was not until after years of purposeless participation that I resovled to follow the example of America. (Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, pp. 472-473.)
Later in the book, Shirer quotes Hitler as saying:
I shall give a propagandist reason for starting the war -- never mind whether it is plausible or not. The victor will not be asked afterward whether he told the truth or not. In starting and waging a war it is not right that matters, but victory. (Ibid, p. 32.)Does that remind you of the Iraq War?
Friday, December 03, 2004
George Bush II was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, the child of an elite New England family, but he chose to align himself politically with trailer park trash. He is a pariah on the world stage because he appeals to the worst in his supporters. Certainly one of the worst things is his use of torture and other inhumane methods employed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist colleagues. You can't fight terrorism with terrorism and maintain high standards.
I think the nadir may have been the blood-bath slaughter of Uday and Qusay Hussein. Why should anyone cry over the death of such terrible people? Because someone has stand up for the morals and decency. When you compare what happened in Iraq to how the US handled the capture and trial of the Nazis who committed atrocities in World War II, there is no comparison. Eisenhower was a decent man, who respected human beings; the Germans struggled to surrender to the Western powers rather than to the Soviets. In Iraq it's questionable whether the Iraqis prefer the US to the Iranians, whom they have fought for generations. How did we sink so low? Mr. Bush, you're no Eisenhower.
"Statements produced under torture have been inadmissible in U.S. courts for about 70 years. But the U.S. military panels reviewing the detention of 550 foreigners as enemy combatants at the U.S. naval base in Cuba are allowed to use such evidence, Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle acknowledged at a U.S. District Court hearing Thursday."
America's embrace of torture is so disappointing, so horrendous, that it's difficult for me to deal with. As the bumper stickers say, "Shit happens," but we don't have to embrace it and approve it. Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Brian Boyle has earned a black place in history along side Hitler and the Third Reich. "The horror! The horror!" We are in the heart of darkness.
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
However, the White House later backed away from its bellicose remarks. According to reports, "A White House National Security Council spokesman later sought to clarify the official's remarks. 'It's clearly an issue that we would monitor,' Sean McCormack said. 'He didn't mean to imply anything more or less.'"
I wonder who "he" is.
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Of course, the abuses at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib did not occur in a vacuum. The Administration at the very highest levels has approved ignoring the Geneva Convention, which should protect prisoners of war. The Administration's culpability is documented in Seymour Hersh's book: Chain of Command, The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib.
Friday, November 26, 2004
They claim they killed the bill because it would not allow sufficient military control over tactical military intelligence that the Pentagon needs, as opposed to big picture strategic intelligence that the White House, the State Department, and the CIA need. But recent news articles strongly refute that position. One strong argument against killing the bill was given by Congressman Gingrey, who apparently thought it supported his position. He said on the PBS Newshour on November 24:
REP. PHIL GINGREY: Let me make it very personal. Tyler Brown, first lieutenant, killed in action. Georgia Tech graduate, president of the student body, 26 years old, was killed by a sniper three weeks after he arrived in Iraq from the DMZ. That young Marine, young soldier, Army first lieutenant, he needed information right away about where that sniper was, where that possible attack was coming from.
If we have to worry about that information going up the chain of command to an NID who is outside the Department of Defense, then we have some real concerns here.
Gingrey's example is of a man whose life was lost because the present Pentagon system did not work, not of a man whose life was saved by the current system. It is an argument for improvement, not for the status quo. In addition, today's New York Times says that in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as other hot spots, the military increasingly relies on civilian, commercial satellite imagery, not military intelligence satellites. Ironically, the commercial imagery works well, but the difficulty is distributing it to the troops in the field, the very thing that is said to work so well by those who defeated the intelligence bill. The NYT article says:
The unclassified source of the photographs is also critical, because the commercial images can be shared not only with United States partners - troops from the Iraqi National Guard or aid groups - but also with United States Army soldiers who often do not have security clearance. An image from a government spy satellite can be declassified, but the process is time-consuming. Even Iraqi war prisoners were shown some commercial images last year in an effort to locate hidden weapons....
During the conflict in Afghanistan in late 2001 and 2002, the Air Force used the United States mail to send cartons filled with CD's to pilots. The Air Force Combat Support Office set up what it called the Pony Express, delivering the CD's in person. Delays in creating and distributing the maps resulted in many missions being flown without up-to-date information, Air Force officials acknowledge.The existing problems with distribution of intelligence described in the NYT article are exactly those which the Republicans who killed the intel bill claimed do not exist but would be created by the intelligence czar in the bill.
Army officials cite similar difficulties. A brigade combat team in Iraq took 18 hours to move from Baquba to Najaf instead of the typical six hours, because maps had not been updated to reflect that a bridge had been knocked out, said Robert W. Burkhardt, director of the Army Corps office that is building the Urban Tactical Planner.
A final example of how ignorant those Republicans are, and how uncaring for troops in the field, is an article in MIT's Technology Review for November 2004. The cover article shows Lt. Col. Ernest "Rock" Marcone with the title, "How Tech Failed Him." The article says:
Later the article says, "Once the invasion[of Iraq] began, breakdowns quickly became the norm.... In three cases, U.S. vehicles were actually attacked while they stopped to receive intelligence data on enemy positions. 'A lot of guys said, "Enough of this shit," and turned it off,' says Perry, flicking his wrist as if clicking off a radio. 'We can't afford to wait for this.'"
Marcone says no sensors, no network, conveyed the far more dangerous reality, which confronted him at 3:00 a.m. April 3. He faced not one brigade but three: between 25 and 30 tanks, plus 70 to 80 armored personnel carriers, artillery, and between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi soldiers coming from three directions. This mass of firepower and soldiers attacked a U.S. force of 1,000 soldiers supported by just 30 tanks and 14 Bradley fighting vehicles. The Iraqi deployment was just the kind of conventional, massed force that's easiest to detect. Yet "We got nothing until they slammed into us," Marcone recalls.
This is the wonderful system that cannot be compromised in order to reform the intelligence community. I don't know how the people who make those arguments -- Hunter, Sensenbrenner, and Gingrey -- can look at themselves in the mirror, knowing that they are putting the lives of American fighting men and women at higher risk than necessary every day in Iraq.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
The most remarkable aspect of what Washington wrote is the depth of its religious tone. He had often in the past expressed gratitude for the assistance of Providence to the American cause and had expressed hope that the boon would be continued. But never before had he devoted so much -- more than a third -- of a complicated pronouncement to religious considerations. That he was not just striking a popular attitude as a politician might is revealed by the absence of the usual Christian terms: he did not mention Christ or even use the world "God." Following phraseology of the philosophical Deism he professed, he referred to "the invisible hand which conducts the affairs of men," to "the benign parent of the human race."Flexner adds in a footnote:
That Washington intentionally avoided the word "God" is strongly indicated by his first Thanksgiving Proclamation. Having quoted Congress's request that he establish a day for thanking "Almighty God," in the part of the proclamation he himself wrote he used other designations.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
It's true that a lot of the hype was probably Putin bragging for Russian consumption. But again, why bring the subject up unless there is something to it. Furthermore, what do we really know about the new missile? How good is our intelligence? It is possible that the new missile is really some kind of a breakthrough that would significantly increase the threat to the US of a missile attack by Russia? Bush claims that Putin is his good buddy, but Putin has been doing some stuff in Russian political and economic sectors that doesn't endear him to anybody except lovers of the cold war. Of course one of those cold war lovers is Donald Rumsfeld. He would love to dump this messed-up Iraq War and get back to things he really loves, like missile defense. Does he know whether his new missile defenses will work against Putin's new missiles?
Friday, November 19, 2004
Hitler was in a fine fury. He sacked Rundstedt for the last time on March 10, replacing him with Field Marshall Kesselring, who had held out so stubbornly and long in Italy. Already in February the Fuehrer, in a fit of rage, had considered denouncing the Geneva Convention in order, he said at a conference on the nineteenth, “to make the enemy realize that we are determined to fight for our existence with all the means at our disposal.” He had been urged to take his step by Dr. Goebbels, the bloodthirsty noncombatant, who suggested that all captured airmen be shot summarily in reprisal for their terrible bombing of the German cities. When some of the officers present raised legal objections Hitler retorted angrily:
Shirer says that in the end, “there was no general massacre of captured flyers or other prisoners of war (except the Russians),” but “several were done to death and the civil population was incited to lynch Allied air crews who parachuted to the ground.”To hell with that!… If I make it clear that I show no consideration for prisoners but that I treat enemy prisoners without any consideration for their rights, regardless of reprisals, then quite a few [Germans] will think twice before they desert."
This was one of the first indications to his followers that Hitler, his mission as a world conqueror having failed, was determined to go down, like Wotan at Valhalla, in a holocaust of blood — not only the enemy’s but that of his own people. At the close of the discussion he asked Admiral Doenitz “to consider the pros and cons of this step and to report as soon as possible.”
Doenitz cam back with his answer on the following day and it was typical of the man.
The disadvantages would outweigh the advantages . . . It would be better in any case to keep up outside appearances and carry out the measures believed necessary without announcing them beforehand.
It appears that Hitler’s officer corps had more moral integrity than the American officer corps has. The Germans officers sort of stood up to Hitler on this issue. They said even if you violate the Convention, don’t admit it. American officers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Cuba just rolled over and spit on the Geneva Convention, regardless of what that might mean for the future treatment of American soldiers who become prisoners.
Who was the American Goebbels in the Administration arguing for disregarding the Geneva Convention? It sounds as if it was future Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. However, this Administration is full of people, who like Goebbels, are bloodthirsty noncombatants.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
The commentators seem pretty united in saying that the main problem at CIA is not the spies, but the analysts. Goss claims he wants more CIA risk taking, but he has fired (or forced the resignation of) those officials on the spy side who are most inclined to risk taking. And he has told the analysts that their analysis had better support George Bush, i.e., that they had better say that everything in Iraq is perfect. There is no unrest. The Americans are in complete control. Iraqis love the Americans and their life under American rule. If he fires and intimidates enough people, those are certainly the reports that he will get.
He has already begun emasculating the James Bonds of the agency, and I'm sure he'll go after uppity women, too. He will certainly stifle all independent thought at the CIA.
I can't understand why Goss, who supposedly was a clandestine services officer, would want to destroy the clandestine services. The only reason I can think of is that he was a failure as a spook -- hence his leaving CIA and becoming a congressman -- and therefore is taking revenge on successful spooks. It's nice to have family money as Goss does. It may not be good for America, but it's good for Goss.
CNN is reporting that Goss denies that he ordered the CIA to color its intelligence in favor of the administration. It's not surprising that he would, since his order undercuts the whole purpose of the CIA. At the entrance to the CIA is the following Bible quotation, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." By making a mockery of that sentiment, Bush and Goss demonstrate that they apparently hate the truth and hate the Bible.
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
The ironic thing is that except for its Protestant north, Europe is mostly Catholic. Yet, because the Catholic Europeans are liberal (as opposed to the Catholic church itself), the Conservative Republicans hate them venomously, especially the French. Who would have thought that Henry VIII would be responsible for such a big difference in US foreign policy?
Monday, November 15, 2004
- If only President Bush called in Colin Powell and said: "Colin, neither of us have much to show by way of diplomacy for the last four years. I want you to get on an airplane and go out to the Middle East. I want you to sit down with Israelis and Palestinians and forge a framework for a secure Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and progress toward a secure peace in the West Bank, and I don't want you to come back home until you've got that. Only this time I will stand with you.
- "As long as you're out there, I will not let Rummy or Cheney fire any more arrows into your back. So get going. It's time for you to stop sulking over at Foggy Bottom and time for me to make a psychological breakthrough with the Arab world that can also help us succeed in Iraq - by making it easier for Arabs and Muslims to stand with us. I don't want to see you back here until you've put our words into deeds."
One key phrase in this fictional dialogue is, "Only this time I will stand with you." It's not going to happen now. So, who's going to bring peace in the Middle East? Paul Wolfowitz? I don't think so. Bush is keeping his evangelical Christians and Zionist Jews for whom hatred is a way of life, and his moderates are jumping ship, or being pushed over the side.
Of course, there might be some threat from terrorists, and it might be useful to know what's going on behind the scenes in Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea, or a few other places. You can argue that the intelligence from these places wasn't very good under the old regime, although amazingly George Tenet left with little but praise from his boss. It appears that Tenet was brilliant, but was ill-served by everyone working for him.
I'm still not convinced that the "war" on terrorism is more like the war in Iraq or Vietnam than like the war on drugs or poverty. The war in Iraq is related to the "war" on terrorism mainly because of the hatred it has fomented against the US in the Muslim world. The number of foreign fighters killed in Falluja compared to the number of Iraqi fighters will give some indication of the importance of Iraq in killing terrorists. The more foreigners killed, the more successful the Iraq war is as part of the "war" on terrorism.
In any case, the CIA, like State, now goes to the ideologues. Will all of America's foreign policy now be as misguided as its Iraq policy has been?
Powell was the voice of reason in the Administration. So, no more voice of reason. The wild men (and wild women, e.g., Condi Rice) are in charge. The CIA is in total disarray (see my previous post); so, forget foreign policy for a few months. Rummy and Wolfowitz will have to take care of it, and will no doubt be happy to do so.
The sad thing for the State Department is losing a leader who actually cared about the troops. Most Secretaries of State have been politicians or lawyers who love the policy issues and meeting and greeting all the heads of state, but who usually care less about the staffers who work for them. As a general who cared about his troops in the Army, Powell brought the same concern for his troops when he came to State. His attention has been great for State Department morale, even if he lost a lot of important policy debates with the White House. The new Bush Administration will definitely be poorer for his departure.
Maybe Bush will name someone moderate with high personal character to the position, but it seems unlikely. It's most likely to be another hate-filled weasel like the other advisers surrounding Bush.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
On the other side, David Brooks writes a vicious op-ed article in Saturday's NYT accusing the CIA of being disloyal to the President. The unusual venom in Brooks' column must mean that there is some serious hatred in this dispute. He said, "Langley was engaged in slowmotion, brazen insuborination, which violated all standards of honorable public service. It was also incredibly stupid, since C.I.A. officials were betting their agency on a Kerry victory.... If we lived in a primative age, the ground at Langley would be laid waste and salted, and there would be heads on spikes."
What is not clear is whether the CIA officers legitimately believe that they were misused by the Administration, starting with the intelligence used as a basis for the war with Iraq, and are now being fired for what the Administration did. Maybe the CIA was incompetent, or maybe the Administration misused intelligence information and then blamed the CIA when things went bad.
Both Nixon (with Watergate) and Reagan (with Iran-Contra) discovered to their shame that it's difficult to do dirty business with the CIA. Maybe the CIA will turn out to be a thorn in the side of Bush II's second term, too.
Another bad thing is that legislation on reforming the intelligence community per recommendations of the 9/11 Commission is pending in Congress. This dust-up promises to confuse that issue as well.
- MS. BARTIROMO: Are you planning to announce imminently that you're stepping down, sir.
- SECRETARY POWELL: Whenever something is to be announced, it will be announced, and it is a matter for the President and I to discuss and decide.
To construe that as saying he's leaving is reading a lot into it, although it is not a straightforward statement that he will stay.
- MS. BARTIROMO: Certainly the group of people who have really been paying the price for this war have been our soldiers on the front lines. We had Ben Stein, who is a supporter of yours, supporter of the Administration and a supporter of the war, on the program recently, and he was upset about what we -- at the way we compensate our soldiers.
Do you think that we pay them appropriately?
- SECRETARY POWELL: Can you ever pay a soldier enough for putting his or her life at risk and perhaps losing his or her life? Can you ever compensate a family adequately for that kind of sacrifice? Not really. But we do a pretty good job. We have benefits available for our soldiers in case they are injured or lost in battle, and with respect to their salaries, it's a volunteer force so what we have to do is go out into the marketplace and recruit people and we have to pay them a salary that will cause them to volunteer to come into the Army. We're in a market system with respect to our military, and so the entry level salaries are competitive with what they might get in a similar capacity -- not quite identical but similar capacity -- in civilian life.
- And the fact of the matter is we're meeting our recruiting goals and we meet our reenlistment goals, so we are paying a wage that allows us to do that. Is it adequate? Would I like to see soldiers get paid more? All the time.
Friday, November 12, 2004
Carson says that after he addressed the congregation, "the pastor launched into an attack on the 'pro-choice terrorists,' who were, to his mind, far more dangerous than Al Qaida." While it has become something of a Democratic theme, it does somewhat appear that the conservatives espouse a viewpoint more like the pre-Enlightenment Middle Ages than current Western thinking. Carson says, "The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself." Both the Baptists and bin Laden seem opposed to modernity.... The voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones."
Ironically, Bush's "moral values" base shares bin Laden's view that economics are unimportant, that moral values must be restored at any cost. Even more ironically, Bush takes advantage of this viewpoint by pandering to the other part of his base, the majority of the wealthy in this country by giving them tons of Federal Government largesse in the form of tax breaks, government subsidies, and government contracts.
It looks as if it all boils down to the US not being willing to commit enough troops to Iraq to make the invasion really successful. The New York Times reports that the military had to pull about one-third of its forces out of Falluja to respond to the violence in Mosul. We defeated Saddam Hussein, but we have not turned Iraq into a functioning democratic state, because so far we have not been willing to commit the forces necessary to do so.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Yet, Bush blames the 9/11 attack on Iraq, rather than viewing it as a response to his policies toward Israel. This doesn't mean that the US policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict is wrong, but it does mean that there are costs to that policy, possibly starting with 3,000 American lives. A cynical person might say that's why the settlements for the victims' families were so generous, as I noted they were in a previous post. Generous settlements helped assure that there would be less pressure from the victims' families to look at foreign policy. However, their pressure did bring about the 9/11 Commission report, including strong criticism of US security and intelligence capabilities. Bin Laden made his statement only after the 9/11 report had been issued.
Now that Arafat is gone, it will be interesting to see what happens to Bush's Mid-East foreign policy.
No one in my family was a career soldier. My father stayed in the National Guard after World War II, and was called up for Korea. His father left the Army after the Spanish-American War, but re-enlisted for World War I.
I don't know of any veterans in my family any farther back than these.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
Monday, November 08, 2004
Another issue that bothers me is the self-righteousness of the evangelicals and their bragging about how much they pray. The self-righteousness was on display yesterday on ABC this week with the head of Focus on the Family. When George Stephanopoulis asked him whether he would like to apologize to Sen. Leahy for saying that Leahy hated God's people, he said no, that he stood by his statement accusing Leahy of hatred of God's people. When Stephanopoulis asked him if this was Christian, he said Stephanopoulis could not teach him about being a Christian.
I found the head of Focus on the Family to be very un-Christian. Today's op-ed in the New York Times by Gary Hart explains well why the so-called Christian conservatives are not Christian. He misses one point, however, from the Sermon on the Mount. The evangelical Christians talk about how much they pray. See, for example, yesterday's New York Times Magazine. Jesus said (Matthew 6:6):
- But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
I really question whether any of these so-called evangelical Christians has read the New Testament.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
"22 If men strive and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman's husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine.
"23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life."
The most straightforward reading of these passages seems to mean that if a man causes a woman to lose the child she is carrying, then he must pay a penalty, but something short of the death penalty for taking a life. If the woman dies, then the death penalty applies. However, I see from looking around the Internet that the right to lifers interpret it to mean that if a man cause a woman to give birth prematurely, but the child survives, then there is no death penalty, but the child dies, then the death penalty applies.
I looked into this because the talking heads on TV are saying that "values" or "morality" were the most important factors in electing Bush, but that this really meant only two issues: abortion and gay marriage. The Bible, particularly the New Testament, has so much to say about loving your neighbor and caring for the poor that I would think loving your neighbor would be important to Christians of any type -- evangelical, born again, or traditional. If the abortion issue is so much more important than Jesus' sermon on the mount, it looks like it would have gotten more attention in the Bible, and that any mention of it would be clearer than Exodus 21.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
One test for me will be what happens in Fallujah. If Bush is going to be the strong, brave leader that he was apparently elected to be, then he has to work out the future of Iraq, which in large part depends on what happens in Fallujah and other cities in the Sunni triangle. Iraqi elections scheduled for January will be virtually worthless if the Sunni triangle does not participate meaningfully.
If the Marines can't break the rebellion quickly by winning the Sunnis' hearts and minds, then they need to break it quickly with an iron fist, which may mean significant casualties. The question is whether Bush is willing to accept the casualties. The casualties may not come, because our other attacks, in the first Iraq war as in this one, have often been met by a stealthy melting away of the enemy, but you have to prepare for resistance if you attack.
The problem is highlighted by the headline of an article in the San Jose Mercury about the impending attack on Fallujah: "Marines' center symbolic of failed plans in Iraq." It says, "When the Marines arrived in Fallujah last March, they planned to win hearts and minds by learning Iraqi customs, sipping tea with local leaders and handing out candy and soccer balls while on foot patrol. But the liaison office is now more an outpost in enemy territory than the outreach center it was intended to be."
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Monday, November 01, 2004
One reason I am for Ralph Nader is that both Kerry and Bush are slavishly devoted to Ariel Sharon. The New York Times published an article headlined, "Kerry and Bush Compete for the Role of Israel's Best Friend." The article says, "One striking example of the consistency of views between the candidates is their responses to the plan by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel to withdraw troops and settlements from Gaza...." It adds that campaign surrogates Condi Rice and Richard Holbrooke both addressed AIPAC in Florida a week ago.
Saturday, October 30, 2004
Pakistan is an important country to the US because it is an important ally in fighting terrorists in Afghanistan (who may live part-time in Pakistan), and it has nuclear weapons, the technology for which it has been willing in the past to sell to the highest bidder.
Despite the Bush administration's efforts to build lines of communication and friendship with Pakistan, the Los Angeles Times reports as a headline that "In Pakistan, U.S. Policies Foster Suspicion and Hatred." The article quotes several Pakistanis who used to be favorable to the US. About one, who enjoyed living in New York, the article says that now, "...With each passing day, Hamid's empathy is eroding. He believes that the Bush administration, by pursuing a foreign policy fixated on security, is turning a legitimate battle against terrorism into a campaign of hatred against Muslims.... Hamid said that in a country squeezed between Musharraf, a general who seized power in 1999, and Islamic extremists, there is little room for Western-educated moderates."
According to another source, "'I personally feel Americans are losing friends in Pakistan very, very rapidly,' said Shah Mahmood Qureshi, deputy parliamentary leader of the Pakistan People's Party, whose exiled leader, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was a close U.S. ally. 'When the realization finally comes, it'll be too late.'"
All the main news outlets are predicting a new Marine offensive in Falluja soon. This goes back to my earlier posting on September 13, about orders that came from Washington telling the Marines to back off during their first offensive, making them look cowardly. The first offensive started after American security contractors were killed in Falluja and strung up for all to see.
The new offensive seems as politically controlled as the first, which is tough for the Marines who have to carry it out. It seems pretty clear that it is being delayed until too late to influence the US election, or perhaps the threat of the offensive is being used to win the votes of hawks who were disappointed with the failure of the first offensive. If that's the case, the second offensive may be more bark than bite. A New York Times article warns that the situation in Ramadi, near Falluja, is rapidly deteriorating and that guerrillas who are run out of Falluja (population 300,000) might simply move to Ramadi (population 400,000).
The problem whether there is an offensive or not, is the January elections. If there is no offensive placing Falluja under US control, elections will be less meaningful in the Sunni triangle, and a significant Iraqi constituency will be under represented. If there is an offensive, it may turn the hearts and minds of the Sunni Iraqis against the US, again with unfavorable implications for the elections.
Friday, October 29, 2004
An article on Rediff.com says that India should support President Bush's re-election because he has been so soft on India's nuclear program. While this attitude may have been good for US-Indian relations, which have needed improvement, it has not been good for the global non-proliferation regime. The problem is that if India proliferates and gets away with it, then every other country will think that it has a right to do so, including Iran and North Korea.
After criticizing Kerry for his strong non-proliferation stand, the article by Colonel Dr Anil A Athale (retd) says, "President Bush on the other hand has been responsible for stalling and virtually killing the CTBT and stressed that he is concerned about the spread of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to 'terrorist' groups. Bush also stressed his resolve to build the anti-missile defence shield." In other words, Bush opposes some non-proliferation efforts (the CTBT, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty), and has limited other non-proliferation efforts to terrorist groups only (not countries in general). Presumably, he thinks that the anti-missile shield means that the US can live with proliferation.
The writer says, "Thanks to President Bush's pragmatic approach, the issue of Indian nuclear weapons got pushed to the background over the last four years and Indo-US relations flourished."
The debate between Bush and Kerry over the missing explosives in al-Qaqaa ignores an important issue: why did the administration ignore the IAEA's designation of these explosives as important to a nuclear weapons program? Bush has said that the main reason for the invasion of Iraq was because Saddam had or was about to get weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear. Remember the mushroom cloud smoking gun?
Under those circumstances, the administration should have requested a list of designated nuclear-related sites from the IAEA (the International Atomic Energy Agency) and then specifically assigned US troops to check on and secure those sites. The fact that the ABC News video shows US troops breaking an IAEA seal, having no idea what it was, indicates the poor training the troops got for their primary mission of protecting the US and the rest of the world from WMD.
The explosives were not WMD, but they are an important ingredient in making a nuclear weapon go bang, once you have the really important ingredient, fissile uranium or plutonium. Why weren't the troops briefed on this aspect of the invasion, and why was the IAEA's list of nuclear sites ignored? Partly because of the ill will between the Bush administration and the UN, and the UN's IAEA in particular. Bush singled out Hans Blix, who was heading up the UN's inspection effort, for particular personal insults, and apparently the US spied on Blix in the run up to the war. When you burn your bridges, as the US did before the war, you had better be right. It turns out that we were not right.
Tuesday, October 26, 2004
The Washington Post broke a story about the CIA's removal of prisoners from Iraq, although this appears to violate the Geneva Conventions. According to the Post, the Justice Department wrote a memo in defense of the practice. Although the memo was stamped "draft" and apparently never finalized, it was circulated to other agencies, and the CIA relied on it in undertaking the removals or "renditions."
On Sunday, the New York Times had a long article on the rewriting of military law after 9/11 to allow sending prisoners to Guantanamo, where the administration expected them to be beyond the reach of the US judicial system. The article says that the White House proponents of this system kept lawyers from other agencies -- including uniformed military lawyers and State Department lawyers -- out of the process because the White House considered them too soft.
The Washington Post has a major article on the failures of Bush's non-proliferation policy, involving most of the biggies, but with relatively little focus on Iraq. After all, it turned out that Iraq wasn't really a non-proliferation threat. It also doesn't mention India, since India is sort of doing its own thing, except that the unmentioned free pass for India complicates enforcing the entire non-proliferation regime, such as it is, against anyone.
The article, however, has in depth information on Pakistan (and the free pass given to A.Q. Khan), North Korea (and the absence of a policy -- "no carrot, no stick and no talk"), Iran (where the US turned down several opportunities to negotiate), Libya (about which the UK was much more concerned than the US), and finally Russia. According to the article, "'The big gorilla in the basement is the material from Russia and Pakistan,' said Robert L. Gallucci, dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service and a classified consultant to the CIA and Energy Department laboratories. 'This is the principal, major national security threat to the United States in the next decade or more. I don't know what's in second place.'" Regarding Nunn-Lugar, the article continues, "Securing the [Russian nuclear] materials is laborious, expensive and dangerous work. Bush decided to let two of the major programs lapse because Russia declined to accept a change in the agreement that would shield U.S. firms from liability for worker safety."
The other disturbing fact was that intelligence types are almost certain that A.Q. Khan was doing nuclear business with another country, but nobody knows which one, and Khan is not talking. Bush continues to coddle Khan and Pakistan because we need their help in the war on conventional terror. Apparently nuclear terror is not so important.
Saturday, October 23, 2004
The New York Times reported Friday that a weeklong training session for Iraqi judges and prosecutors who are supposed to try Saddam Hussein did not go well. Western experts said the Iraqis were not acquainted with the complexities of international law used to deal with mass killing and genocide.
On the other hand, the UN said that Secretary General Kofi Annan had expressed "serious doubts" that the Iraqi court could meet "relevant international standards," worried that its ability to apply the death penalty went against UN policies, and therefore Annan had concluded that UN legal experts should not assist the Iraqis. According to the article, an Iraqi said he would welcome UN participation because, "It would stop the impression that the whole thing is run by Americans."
The Washington Post described the UN decision as "a blow to the United States and Iraq's interim government." The Post added, "A senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing diplomacy, said the Iraqi tribunals would proceed without U.N. support, with the first trials against Hussein's associates starting in the new year."
The articles do not mention the role of Ahmad Chalabi's cousin, Salem Chalabi. Salem was initially named to head the war crimes tribunal, but has recently been removed from that position because of accusations of his involvement in criminal activity, according to CNN.
An article in today's Washington Post questioning whether there will be a terrorist attack to disrupt US elections raises the question of whether we are really in a war against terrorism comparable to the war in Iraq, or whether the real war on terrorism is more akin to the war on organized crime or drugs. The first question is what we mean by war. In America, the word war has been applied to wars on poverty, wars against crime, other types of "war" which are not one nation fighting another. Therein lies the problem, the war on terror is not a war against another nation, or an alliance of nations, but against people from many nations who share certain beliefs and hatreds. The nations don't share these dangerous values -- a relatively small percentage of the their populations do.
It's very possible that the 9/11 attacks were a fluke. If airport security had just been a little tighter, they never would have happened. If the FBI and CIA had just worked a little harder, they never would have happened. We were fighting 20-30 people who were intent on destroying thousands of Americans, but nevertheless, wars usually involve tens or hundreds of thousands of people fighting as many on the other side, perhaps millions. That's certainly not the case here, and Bush has never defined how his war on terrorism will be fought, unlike the conventional war on Iraq, which was fought in a relatively conventional way.
Can Bush really defend America if he is fighting the wrong war? I think there is a good chance that Bush is fighting the wrong war and that what he is doing is decreasing, not increasing, America's security.
Thursday, October 21, 2004
The August 28 Economist article on whether Musharraf will retire from the military for the remainder of his rule as President, had some interesting comments on continuing instability in Pakistan. The article said, "Despite ... protestations of friendship to Harmid Karzai, Afghanistan's president, who was visiting Islamabad this week, there are still suspicions that Pakistan is less than zealous in pursuing remnants of the Taliban on its Afghan borders. Curbing Al-Qaeda-linked terror at home, however, is a matter, quite literally, of life and death for Pakistan's leaders. General Musharraf has narrowly escaped two assassination attempts. And nine people died in an attack last month on Mr Aziz," the new prime minister.
Given that Pakistan seems to be our most important ally against terrorism in the region, and that it possesses nuclear weapons, its commitment to anti-terrorism and its allegiance to the West, particularly the US, is crucial to our continuing our current policies in the region.
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
Two recent articles highlight US acceptance of Israeli abuses of Palestinians, most recently in Gaza. The Washington Post reported today on the Human Rights Watch's criticism of Israel's demolishing houses in Gaza. "The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in violation of international law," Human Rights Watch said in its 133-page report, adding that in most of the cases "the destruction was carried out in the absence of military necessity."
On October 16, the Post reported that in an interview with the Financial Times, Brent Scowcroft said that President Bush is "mesmerized" by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The Post said that Scowcroft further told the Financial Times, "Sharon just has him [Bush] wrapped around his little finger." Broadening his view, Scowcroft said that relations with Europe are "in general bad."
President Bush must be unhappy when his Daddy's old associates pull out the long knives. More and more, however, it is looking like Daddy was right not to march to Baghdad following his victory in the 1991 Iraq war.
Brazil and Russia will sign a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on space launch matters when Putin visits Brazil in November, according to Space Daily. According to the article, the MOU calls for the joint development and production of launch vehicles, the launch of geostationary satellites and the joint development and utilization of Brazil's Alcantara Launch Center.
According to the article, "Russia's direct involvement in Brazil's space program accelerated following the explosion of Brazil's VLS rocket at Alcantara in August 2003. At that time, Russian space officials were invited to participate in the investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, which killed 21." Last September, Brazil awarded a contract to a Russian firm for technical assistance in rebuilding the launch tower destroyed in the VLS explosion, according the Brazilian newspaper, Gazeta Mercantil. The newspaper reported the new VLS launch tower is being built for to include the use of liquid-fuel rocket propellants, a technology, which Brazil does not yet possess, but which is being studied with the Russians to be incorporated into one of the future versions of the Brazilian VLS rocket.
Brazil's determination to proceed with its indigenous space launch vehicle is another example of its desire to be a first-rate world power, along with the US, India, China, Russia, etc. If space and nuclear technology are considered indicators of such first-rate power, then Brazil wants it regardless of the implications for the NPT and the MTCR. That does not necessarily mean that Brazil wants ICBMs with nuclear warheads; Brazil is a peaceful country. To the extent that the US uses its nuclear ICBMs to intimidate other countries around the world, however, Brazil could at some point follow in its footsteps by developing them. If the US turns its back on disarmament, then it may at some time have to invade Brazil, as it did Iraq, to eliminate the space and nuclear programs by force, if it is unwilling to accept them, as it has accepted them in India.
On Friday the New York Times print edition for Colorado had a front page article on the possibility that Ralph Nader's campaign may constitute a threat to John Kerry and the Democrats. (I can't find it in the Times' on-line edition.) It says that Nader could influence the electoral outcome in nine states, including Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
I suppose the Democrats say this is a reason not to vote for Nader. I say that if the Democrats wanted me not to vote for Nader, they should have nominated Dean. Presumably the Democrats will win Iowa and New Hampshire, since these were the primaries that gave Kerry the nomination. I suppose also that the Democrats wanted a typical colorless politician who tries to be all things to all people, and that's why they wanted Kerry. So, they got him and they have a chance to win the election, but not with my help.
Monday, October 18, 2004
In an earlier post, I said that one reason I support Ralph Nader is because John Kerry's position on Israel is almost indistinguishable from George Bush's. This article in the St. Petersburg Times (of Florida) describes the situation well. The article quotes Duncan Clarke, professor of international relations at American University as saying, "Both of them [Kerry and Bush] have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel's interests...."This is an area where both candidates, at least in their declared policies, agree solidly.... Both of them have repeatedly stated their undying commitment to Israel and Israel's interests." Later the article says, "Publicly, there is little daylight between the candidates. Both support a Palestinian state but call Arafat a 'failed leader.' Both support Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Both appeared at AIPAC's annual conference."
The article goes on to say, "'President Bush adopted the Arab position of a Palestinian state despite the sustained and murderous execution of terrorism by the Palestinian Authority,' says Ariel Cohen, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. 'Having said that, George W. Bush does have the reputation of being the most pro-Israel president" in two decades.' The administration's ardent support is widely presumed to be rooted in the influence of the 'neocons' or neoconservatives - a group of top officials and advisers with longtime ties to the Jewish state. Among them are Paul Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, and Richard Perle, former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board."
It adds, "Even before the neocons became a factor in U.S. foreign policy, Israel enjoyed almost unqualified support in Congress. One big reason is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC].... Those familiar with AIPAC say it enhances its aura of power by picking battles it knows it can win. It was credited with - or blamed for - the 2002 defeat of incumbents Cynthia McKinney of Georgia and Earl Hilliard of Alabama, both seen as hostile to Israel."
I would add, many years ago it defeated Sen. Charles Percy of Illinois, when he was seen as a Chairman of Foreign Relations Committee who was not pro-Israel enough. The article goes on to point out that AIPAC has recently been accused of acting on behalf of Israeli intelligence and may have "crossed the line between lobbying and acting as an agent for a foreign government."
Finally, the article points out the role of evangelical Christians in molding the Bush administration's Israel policy: "The Bush administration's failure to push its 'road map for peace' stems in part from fear of alienating Jewish voters in an election year. But some experts say it is also because Bush doesn't want to anger a key Republican constituency: evangelical Christians.
Among them are the millennialists, who prophesy Israel's occupation of all of its 'biblical lands' and other scenarios that could lead to holy war with Islam. The Christian right 'has a very clear idea what it would like to see happen in the Mideast, and that's not based on Israel's pragmatic security but on theology - what could be called an apocalyptic foreign policy,' says Gorenberg of the Jerusalem Report.
Of the eight candidates for Congress in Colorado who faced the draft in the Vietnam era, only one served, John Salazar, according to the Denver Post. The most questionable escapes were by Pete Coors and Bob Beauprez, who got medical deferments for minor medical problems. The elite in this country do not fight for it, but they sing loudly the praises of defending and promoting democracy in war.
In its editorial on Sunday endorsing John Kerry for president, the New York Times said, "Heads of rogue states, including Iran and North Korea, have been taught decisively that the best protection against a pre-emptive American strike is to acquire nuclear weapons themselves." This is in addition to the lesson for non-rogue, large states -- like Brazil and India -- that the way to great power status is to acquire nuclear weapons.
Tuesday, October 12, 2004
At the conclusion of its meeting in Seoul, the Missile Technology Control Regime issued a statement critical of countries suspected of developing nuclear capable missiles, according to Space Daily. The MTCR said:
"Partners expressed their serious concerns over missile proliferation in Northeast Asia, the Middle East and South Asia, and reaffirmed their determination to continue discouraging missile programs and activities of proliferation concern."
Reportedly the meeting especially focused on missile proliferation by Iran, Syria, India and North Korea. I think they also should have focused on Pakistan; it would be interesting to know if the US blocked that because of its need for Pakistani cooperation in the war on terrorism. The conference came amid growing concerns about North Korea's missile development. Pyongyang stunned the world in August 1998 by test-launching over Japan a Taepodong-1 missile with a range of up to 2,000 kilometers. Of course, Pakistan tested its Hatf-V missile with a range of about 1,500 kilometers during the meeting.
"Since the 1998 launch, there has been no information on North Korea's new missile development but it is always possible because North Korea could develop new missiles without [test firing]," said the meeting chairman Oh Joon, a director general of South Korea's foreign ministry. North Korea declared a moratorium on missile tests in September 1999 and in May 2001 extended the decision until 2003 and beyond. But the cash-strapped country has refused to stop missile exports, a major source of hard currency earnings.
The MTCR was established in 1987 to control exports of missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, IAEA Chief ElBaradei reported:
"As a result of its ongoing review of satellite imagery acquired on a regular basis, and follow up investigations, the IAEA continues to be concerned about the widespread and apparently systematic dismantlement that has taken place at sites previously relevant to Iraq's nuclear programme and sites previously subject to ongoing monitoring and verification by the IAEA. The imagery shows in many instances the dismantlement of entire buildings that housed high precision equipment (such as flow forming, milling and turning machines; electron beam welders; coordinate measurement machines) formerly monitored and tagged with IAEA seals, as well as the removal of equipment and materials (such as high strength aluminium) from open storage areas.
"As indicated previously to the Council, the IAEA, through visits to other countries, has been able to identify quantities of industrial items, some radioactively contaminated, that had been transferred out of Iraq from sites monitored by the IAEA. However, none of the high quality dual use equipment or materials referred to above has been found. As the disappearance of such equipment and materials may be of proliferation significance, any State that has information about the location of such items should provide the IAEA with that information."
This missing equipment is of relatively low-level significance; however, it is remarkable that after citing nuclear proliferation as the initial main reason for its invasion of Iraq, the US has been so cavalier about protecting nuclear-related materials and equipment. It's ironic that after some much excitement in about Iraq's purchase of aluminum tubes, one of the items missing is high strength aluminum. It's certainly possible that part of the reason for this report is the UN's pique at being diss'ed by the US. But the US should recognize that if you spit in someone's face, they might be critical of you later. The IAEA could have told us this privately, instead of making it public; perhaps they did. The US should take care of its business in Iraq, and apparently it has not been doing so.
According to Reuters, Pakistan test-fired an intermediate-range, nuclear-capable ballistic missile on Tuesday as part of efforts to boost its defenses, but the test was not a show of strength for rival India, the military said. The test came at the start of two days of talks between Pakistani and Indian border officials in the Indian city of Chandigarh, their second meeting this year since regular contacts were revived to discuss frontier issues.
The missile was a Hatf V, a type of Ghauri missile with a range of 940 miles -- capable of hitting most Indian cities and which can carry a payload of 1,985 lb.
Reuters added that Pakistan tested its first nuclear bomb in May 1998 and says its weapons program is a response to that of India. In March, Pakistan test-fired the Shaheen II ballistic missile with a range of 1,250 miles and capable of carrying nuclear warheads to every corner of India. The Pakistani Hatf series of missiles, named after an ancient Islamic weapon, includes the Shaheen and Ghauri missiles.
Reuters further reported that the Ghauri was formally inducted into the military in January 2003. It was developed by Khan Research Laboratories, Pakistan's main uranium-enrichment facility, which was named after Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of the country's atomic bomb. Khan was sacked this year from his job as a special government adviser after he admitted to exporting nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. According to Reuters, some experts say the Ghauri missile was developed with North Korean help in return for nuclear know-how (probably related to Pakistan's expertise in uranium enrichment), but Pakistan denies the link and says it is indigenously produced.
Monday, October 11, 2004
Space Daily reported that Brazil does not want the world to misunderstand its space or nuclear programs, because both have only peaceful and civilian objectives in mind, according to Eduardo Campos, Brazil's Minister of Science and Technology. Since our space program was born during the years of military rule, we have to make sure that we make the transition to a fully civil program, with a focus on showing our society that it is just as important to predict the weather as it is to build a road, Campos told United Press International.
Campos also indicated that Brazil is determined to pursue development of its VLS national rocket program, despite previous failures and U.S. concerns about ballistic-missile, dual-use technology [i.e., under the MTCR]. The president has made a commitment to launch the VLS by 2006, Campos said, and it is an important program to our nation.
The United States shouldn't have any worries about the development of the VLS. He called the United States a great partner in the development of our intellectual capital in this regard, and added that the U.S. government has technical cooperation with us in all the areas that you can imagine. They also know that Brazil has the conditions to have a program such as the VLS.
Campos said Brazilian officials currently are in discussions with the United States about a new Technology Safeguards Agreement, which would permit U.S. rockets or payloads with U.S. components - such as satellites - to be launched from Alcantara, the country's space facility. Brazil previously had signed a TSA with the United States, but the agreement was not ratified by the Brazilian Congress when objections were raised - both in the legislature and the media - that certain restrictions included in the agreement infringed upon the country's sovereignty. (When Brazil talks about its sovereignty, it is serious, but it also means, "We're not going to agree to anything less than other countries are allowed to do, including the United States, China and India.")
Campos went out of his way to emphasize that the United States and the world should also not be concerned about Brazil's nuclear program, despite a recent dispute concerning U.N. inspections of one of the country's uranium enrichment facilities.
Brazil's nuclear program began in the same environment as the space program, Campos said, but later the Brazilian constitutional revision of 1989 established that it was to be a program with peaceful purposes. Brazil is one of the few nations in the world that has all of its installations - civil and military - licensed by all the international agencies.
Campos said Brazil has adhered very strongly to international, nuclear non-proliferation agreements. Last week, Brazil reached an agreement with the United Nations to allow inspections of its uranium enrichment plant outside of Rio de Janeiro, although the limited inspections will not permit access to certain areas. The limitations are meant to protect the country's proprietary technology, according to the country's Ministry of Science and Technology.
Saturday, October 09, 2004
The Hindu newspaper reported on Friday that, "The Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, said today that the circumstances were 'not ripe' for India to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) 'right now'. Dr. Singh, however, said that India was voluntarily fulfilling the commitments that went along with being a responsible nuclear power acting with 'due restraint'". Answering a question at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Dr. Singh said, "We are a nuclear power.... We have a no-first use doctrine in place."
He continued, "Also, we have an impeccable record of export controls so that any unauthorised use of sensitive nuclear materials can be effectively prevented." As the Hindu said, India has consistently taken the position that the NPT is unequal and discriminatory and that it will not sign the treaty. The pressure on New Delhi to sign it mounted after the May 1998 nuclear tests, but there has been no change in India's position on the issue.
The Prime Minister made it clear that India was interested in working with like-minded countries in strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation system. Without referring to Pakistan or the A.Q. Khan network by name, he said that India had seen the clandestine export of nuclear materials in "our" region.
Friday, October 08, 2004
The Democrats think their call for anybody but Bush means voting for Kerry. But for me it means voting for Nader. I don't like Bush, but I don't like Kerry either. Why I don't like Bush should be pretty clear from other postings on this blog.
There are two main reasons that I don't like Kerry. As a Vietnam veteran, I didn't like his accusations that all Vietnam vets are war criminals, although his campaign says that he didn't believe this, that he was just reporting what other people said at some Detroit anti-war conference. I don't buy it. He may not have believed it, but he was using those accusations, which were well received by the left in those days to advance his career. It obviously worked; he's the Democrats' candidate for President.
The second reason I don't like Kerry is his position on the Middle East. The main reason for the unrest in the Middle East is Israel, and America's unquestioning support for Ariel Sharon. George Bush's obsequious, puppy-like devotion to Sharon's every whim is embarrassing to the United States. The latest is Dov Weisglass' statement that Sharon's Gaza policy is intended to freeze the peace process, and Bush's cowardly acceptance of it. Unfortunately, Kerry's position on Israel, as on Iraq, is almost identical to Bush's. In Israel, it appears that there is some lively debate about Sharon's hard line policy. In America, the Jewish community is solidly behind Sharon, which apparently means that both major political parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, unquestioningly support his bloodly, oppressive policies. Senator Edward's answer to Gwin Ifill's question on Israel during the Vice Presidential debate showed how devoted they are to Israel regardless of Israel's persecution of the Palestinians.
So, Nader is my man.
Thursday, October 07, 2004
On October 5, Secretary of State Colin Powell met with Brazilian Minister Celso Amorim while Powell was visiting Brazil. When I was assigned to the US Embassy in Brasilia as science officer during the 1980s, Celso Amorim was serving as the Foreign Ministry representative in the Ministry of Science and Technology. According to his bio, he held this job from 1985-88.
The US wanted to have a big meeting in Brazil to discuss scientific and technological cooperation, with the US side led by President Bush I's science adviser, Allan Bromley of Yale. Celso Amorim was not a big fan of the US, was not enthusiastic about the meeting, and stonewalled for a long time. Eventually we held the meeting, but there was not much agreement on joint projects. There was a lot of hand waving and agreements to agree later on specific projects.
During Powell's visit, there was discussion of Brazil's cooperation with IAEA inspectors who are scheduled to come to Brazil. There has been a question whether they would be allowed to inspect Brazil's plant for making uranium fuel for its nuclear power reactors. Brazil bought a huge nuclear fuel cycle plant from Germany before I was there in the 1980s. Then there was concern that Brazil would use it to highly enrich uranium to a level useful for bombs. That uranium enrichment process was very inefficient and cumbersome. Recently there have been rumors that Brazil purchased a more efficient centrifuge enrichment system from A.Q. Khan and Pakistanis, and for that reason would restrict the IAEA inspection.
When asked about the nuclear issue, Powell said, "I don’t think Brazil could be talked about in the same vein or put in the same category as Iran or North Korea.... In the case of Iran, Iran has been not forthcoming with respect to what it has been doing and we have seen the IAEA prying information out of Iran and our judgment is that Iran’s program is not just for power, but is also designed to move in the direction of a nuclear weapon. In the case of Brazil, this is simply not the case."
Following Secretary Powell's remarks, Celso Amorim said, "I won't go into the technical details, because I have no expertise to do that. But, it’s a simple matter. Brazil has nothing to hide in terms of its uranium enrichment process except for the technology that Brazil has acquired, and which Brazil naturally wishes to protect. It's perfectly possible, and this has been discussed very productively in Vienna. I, myself, was on the telephone with the director of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. El Baradei, who was very pleased with the contacts that he had made with our technical people. And, therefore, I believe it is perfectly possible to conciliate the objectives of the Atomic Energy Agency, to give them the certainty that the entire enrichment process is only for peaceful purposes, that there is no deviation of uranium, while at the same time protecting the Brazilian technology.
"Specifically how that's to be done has to be discussed between the Agency's technical people and the Brazilian authorities in the sector, specifically at the Resende plant that will be visited. It is in our interest to solve this problem, because we want to put the Resende plant into operation, as we have economic needs. Brazil is such a huge country, we cannot do without any source of energy. Brazil has major uranium reserves, and it's only natural that we do not want to have to send our uranium abroad to be enriched, to then have to have to come back to Brazil. That just doesn't make sense....
"Now, in terms of the Additional Protocol, I'll repeat one thing that I've said many times: Brazil has never said that it would not sign, but there is a process of negotiation here I think that we will soon come to an agreement on the Resende plant. And that will help consolidate the subject for the future. But, I want to reiterate, as I said to Secretary Powell, that when Brazil adhered to the Nonproliferation Treaty we actually accepted the package deal. There are three basic elements there: nonproliferation, as such; the possibility of peaceful use of nuclear power with no restrictions, unless there is some specific suspicion on the country but now Secretary Powell has said that there is none; and, third, concrete steps towards disarmament. Within that spirit we will continue to work on these matters. And, I'm certain that as in all the other situations, Brazil has always shown its desire to cooperate with the global goals of nonproliferation and of disarmament, and will continue to work in that direction."
The Additional Protocol which Amorim mentioned gives the IAEA stronger authority for inspections than originally granted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Brazil did not join the NPT for years because it said that the NPT was discriminatory, giving more rights to nuclear powers like the US than to non-nuclear countries. When it finally joined, it did not agree to the additional protocol, and now will probably argue that the international community is trying to change the terms of the agreement after it has been signed. This happened to Brazil when it bought its first nuclear power reactor from Westinghouse in the US in the 1970s. After the billion dollar deal was signed, Congress passed a law saying that the US could not supply fuel for the reactor unless Brazil agreed to "full scope safeguards" (more intrusive than those Brazil had already agreed to) under the NPT. Brazil did not agree then and turned to Germany for future reactors and nuclear technology. Brazil bristled when the US refused to supply the fuel that it had agreed to supply, which was especially harmful coming on the heels of the OPEC embargo that had cut off Brazil's petroleum supply.
Part of my job in Brazil during the 1980s was to get Brazil to be more forthcoming on the nuclear safeguards issue. I was not very successful until the President of Argentina invited the President of Brazil to visit Bariloche, known to be the location of the primary Argentine nuclear research center. Removing an element of Argentine-Brazilian nuclear competition helped both countries move toward more responsible nuclear programs. But Brazil has always been nationalistic. It still did not join the NPT until years later. If the world allows India and Pakistan (not to mention Israel, North Korea, and perhaps some other countries) to join the nuclear club, then Brazil may well insist that it also has the right to join. I don't think there is any indication that Brazil would want nuclear weapons to threaten anybody, but it would not easily consign itself to second-class status in the world by giving up the nuclear option, if nuclear weapons are seen as a sign of great power status.