Thursday, September 30, 2004

Pakistan Stiffs the IAEA

According to a recent AFP report of a BBC interview, IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said that Pakistan has refused to let the UN atomic watchdog IAEA interview disgraced nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, ringleader of the Pakistani nuclear smuggling network. The AFP report continued, "Asked why Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf reportedly said that nobody had asked to question Khan, ElBaradei said: 'I can tell my Pakistani friends that I will be happy to send a team tomorrow to talk to him if we can, absolutely.'"

If there was any doubt that Bush's friend Musharraf was stonewalling about what A.Q. Khan was up to before he was caught providing nuclear assistance to Libya, this comment by ElBaradei should eliminate it. The big question, of course, is whether he was talking to terrorists like Osama bin Laden. And, if so, what sort of help did he provide them. This could be of greater importance than the help we know he provided to Iran and North Korea.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Are Pakistan and Russia Dependable American Friends?

Pakistan's leader, General Musharraf, is Bush's good friend, as Vladimir Putin is in Russia, but maybe the rest of us should look at this friendship a little more closely. Neither Musharraf nor Putin seems to be leading his country toward greater democracy, and both countries are among the most likely to increase nuclear proliferation. Musharraf recently hinted that he may not step down as military commander while he keeps his job as president. Putin has imposed a number of undemocratic changes following the massacre of children in Beslan by Chechen terrorists.

Pakistan has nuclear weapons; it has tested them for all the world to see. Pakistan also has Islamic terrorists in close proximity to its atomic bombs; the American commander in Afghanistan just said that Osama bin Laden is more likely to be hiding in Pakistan than in Afghanistan. There have been two attempts on Musharraf's life that were likely carried out by Islamic fundamentalists. In addition to problems on his Afghan border, where in the past the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI supported the Taliban, Musharraf has the Kashmir crisis on his border with India. Pakistan's rivalry with India was the driving force behind its development of nuclear weapons, but now it's the Muslim state with the Muslim bomb to counter Israel's atomic bomb.

Pakistan's A.Q. Khan was out selling nuclear equipment to any buyer, regardless of their terrorist credentials. He sold to North Korea and to Libya. It was only after Libya turned state's evidence that we found out about this aspect of Khan's activities. When we did, Pakistan only lightly slapped his hand, since he is a national hero for developing the Pakistani bomb, and the Pakistani government has kept our intelligence agents from talking to him to find out who else he may have been selling to.

Meanwhile, Russia has many nuclear weapons left over from the Cold War, some small enough to fit into a suitcase. In addition, it has many unemployed or underemployed nuclear scientists who might be willing to work for bad guys in order to keep their families fed. The Nunn-Lugar Act was designed to deal with the these problems in the former Soviet Union, but in the last few years the Bush administration has done little to implement it, leaving much exposed risk in Russia.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

One Party Democracy in Iraq?

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said Thursday that if elections in Iraq couldn't be held in 100% of the country, "So be it." Because the no-go areas are in the Sunni triangle, it means a lot of Sunnis don't get to vote, thus favoring the Shiites and the Kurds of the three major Iraqi factions. Shia Grand Ayatollah Sistani was a big help in settling the conflict in Najaf; so, it makes political sense for the US to pay him back by favoring the Shias in the election, although it's not very democratic. But hey, even if the elections are not much more democratic than they were under Saddam, at least our guys are winning.

It's not clear, however, whether the Shias are our guys. They are very close to the Shias in Iran, who seem bent to building an atomic bomb against America's wishes. It seems that the short term benefit of holding an election (of any kind) in Iraq trumps the long term threat of nuclear destruction.

Rumsfeld was quickly upstaged by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi, who said that elections would be held on time, while not contradicting Rumsfeld's statement that they might not be held throughout the whole country. Secretary of State Powell was sent out to the Sunday talk shows to smooth the rough edges of Rumsfeld's remarks.

But the truth is sometimes hard to hide. Today, according to the BBC, Jordan's King Abdullah said, "It seems impossible to me to organize indisputable elections in the chaos we see today.... Only if the situation improved could an election be organized on schedule." Maybe friends don't let friends hold meaningless elections.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Nuclear Non-Nuclear Powers

If the Bush Administration is going to make the world safer from weapons of mass destruction (WMD), it is going to have to figure out how to handle nuclear proliferation, which is the most serious type of proliferation in terms of the number of lives that are threatened by it. There is much talk of revising the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which has been relatively successful, but which has failed to prevent proliferation in a few very important cases -- India, Pakistan, and Israel.

The NPT differs in its treatment of nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapons states. Nuclear weapons states are those that exploded a nuclear devices before 1967 -- the US, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France and China. Russia took on the Soviet Union's designation as a nuclear weapons state. Everybody else is a non-nuclear weapons state. Cuba, India, Israel, and Pakistan have not signed the NPT, which is where the rub comes in, because India and Pakistan have both exploded nuclear devices, and Israel is widely known to possess a number of nuclear devices, although it may never exploded one. Israel may have tested one in South Africa in 1979, but exactly what happened when a US satellite reported that it saw a nuclear explosion in 1979 has never been unambiguously explained.

One problem is that the nuclearization since 1967 of these previously non-nuclear states has never been satisfactorily dealt with by the NPT. Their possession of nuclear weapons has been de facto accepted by the world, and they are not in violation of the NPT, because they never joined it. Iran is a member, and North Korea was a member.

A second problem is that the possession of nuclear weapons remains an indication of national greatness. Countries that aspire to world stage greatness, such as Brazil, are unlikely to say it is okay to accept India's nuclear status, but deny it to us. The NPT regime either has to sanction countries that go nuclear, or it has to allow other countries to go nuclear.

The third problem, then, is that the NPT calls on all nuclear powers to get rid of their nuclear arsenals, or at least to work toward disarmament, but they have not done so. There was progress for a while with the various SALT and START negotiations, but these are now ancient history. So, it's been accepted that once a country goes nuclear, it can stay nuclear.

The are a number of proposals to update or strengthen the NPT, but they don't deal with this problem. Until they do, it is unlikely that the NPT will be able to deal with the issue of new nuclear powers, which could include North Korea in the short term, Iran in the medium term, and perhaps Brazil in the long term.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Is Richard Perle Really Fagan from Oliver Twist?

Two commentaries on Pat Buchanan's book Where the Right Went Wrong (which I haven't read) have called him anti-Semitic for comparing Richard Perle to Fagan in Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. The first was in an editorial in the L.A. Times by Jacob Heilbrunn. The second was in a review of the book in the New York Times Book Review by Michael Kazin.

I hadn't read Oliver Twist in a long time, and Fagan is a very unflattering portrait of a Jew. But if there is anybody who deserves an unflattering portrait, it is Richard Perle.

Dickens describes Fagan as, "a very old shrivelled Jew, whose villainous-looking and repulsive face was obscured by a quantity of matted red hair." Later Bill Sikes says to Fagan, "What are you up to? Ill-treating the boys, you covetous, avaricious, in-sa-ti-a-ble old fence?... I wonder they don't murder you! I would if I was them. If'd been your 'prentice, I have done it long ago, and -- no I couldn't have sold you afterwards, for you're fit for nothing but keeping as a curiosity of ugliness in a glass bottle, and I suppose they don't blow glass bottles large enough."

So, let's hear what Richard Perle's benefactor had to say about him. Lord Conrad Black, the CEO of Hollinger International Inc., was the subject of a study by his company of his misdeeds during his reign. The Washington Post headline for its report of the Hollinger study was "Report Details 'Kleptocracy' at Newspaper Firm." The article went on to say, "A report by a special board committee singled out director Richard N. Perle, a former Defense Department official, who received $5.4 million in bonuses and compensation. The report said Perle should return the money to the Chicago company."

Even more damning is an article in MSNBC's Slate about Conrad Black's personal comments about Perle:

Unchastened by the [previous] losses, Perle started his own private equity firm, Trireme Partners, which he founded in 2001 along with Gerald Hillman, a fellow member of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board. Perle tried to hit up Hollinger for a $25 million commitment, with $2.5 million up front. Black resisted, in part because Black, a world-class chiseler himself, felt he was getting chiseled by Perle. On Feb. 1, 2002, Black wrote a memo questioning Perle's habit of submitting personal bills for reimbursement: "I have been consulted about your American Express account which has been sent to us for settlement. It varies from $1,000 to $6,000 per month and there is no substantiation of any of the items which include a great many restaurants, groceries and other matters."

In late 2002 and early 2003, negotiations between Black and Perle grew heated. Ultimately, Black seems to have concluded that $2.5 million was a small price to pay to get rid of Perle. In a Dec. 28, 2002, e-mail, he told colleagues the Trireme investment was, in the report's words, "a means to remove Perle from Digital's payroll."

And while the report documents how Black spent company cash on himself, he resented it when Perle did the same. The report, again: Black "told [Hollinger executive Peter] Atkinson in an e-mail dated [Dec. 29, 2002] that he was 'well aware of what a trimmer and a sharper Richard is at times.' " Black wrote about Trireme. "As I suspected, there is a good deal of nest-feathering being conducted by Richard which I don't object to other than that there was some attempt to disguise it behind a good deal of dissembling and obfuscation." (In Black's book, it was OK to feather your nest but not OK to lie about it.)

Black admired—in a grudging way—how Perle worked on him. Black explained in a Jan. 7, 2003, e-mail to a colleague: "I have been exposed to Richard's full repertoire of histrionics, cajolery, and utilization of fine print. He hasn't been disingenuous exactly, but I understand how he finessed the Russians out of deployed missiles in exchange for non-eventual-deployment of half the number of missiles of unproven design." After discussing compensation with Perle, he wrote: "My feeling is that we are finally dealing with Richard Perle of Reykjavik and the Zero Option, who realizes that mental agility must be applied to bringing us into the coalition and not straight-arming us like a bunch of NATO-ninny psuedo-allies."

In the end, Hollinger did invest $2.5 million in February 2003 in Trireme Partners. True to its name, Perle's venture firm has set about to try to ream its partners. According to the Breeden report, Hollinger's $2.5 million investment in the fund is worth only $1.5 million—a loss of 40 percent in one year.

Lord Black is no anti-Semite; he owned the Jerusalem Post and put Perle on its editorial board. While Richard Perle may not have red hair, according to Lord Black he was "covetous" and "avaricious." He is certainly close enough to a Fagan to warrant Pat Buchanan's comparison.
Marine General Opposed Fallouja Attack

In fairness to the Marines regarding my previous posting, the Marine general in charge of Fallouja says he opposed the original Marine attack, in which the Marines were defeated. The description by Marine General Conway in the L.A. Times of what happened in Fallouja, after the killing of American private security guards and the desecration of their corpses, tracks with what I thought probably happened. The draft dodgers in Washington gave the Marines the order to attack Fallouja, and then when the fighting got tough and Arabs around the world began to protest the deaths, the draft dodgers told the Marines to stop fighting, making them take the rap as cowards, when in fact the cowards were in Washington, or at least in the safety of the Green Zone in Baghdad.

First, the Marines did not refuse to fight when told to do so, and secondly, they were not the ones who decided to run from the fight when the fighting got tough. To me the key quotation in the L.A. Times article from the general is this: "I would simply say that when you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, that you really need to understand what the consequences are, and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that," Conway said. "Once you commit, you've got to stay committed."

What about Bush's promises to stay the course, challenging the forces fighting the US in Iraq (whoever they are) to "bring it on." They brought it on, and we ran like cowards. But the Marines were not the cowards.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Why Do Republicans Hate Veterans, Especially Marines?

Apparently the Swift Boat Veterans have another commercial out. As a Vietnam veteran, I have had enough attacks on my patriotism. I don't like Kerry because he attacked veterans in the 1970s, but now I don't like Bush because he is attacking veterans vehemently today. An attack on Kerry because he is a veteran is an attack on all veterans. Claiming that it is an attack on him because of how he got his medals or what he did during some particular 15 minutes in country does not make it any less an attack on him because he is a veteran. Veterans deserve support from their country. I pity the poor soldiers in Iraq who have to come back as veterans reviled by Bush.

In particular, I pity the Marines, whose courage has been called into question by their tours in Iraq. The Marines were the main troops in Fallouja and Najaf, where the US ran into serious resistance and chickened out. It makes the Marines look like cowards, but I doubt that they are. The decision to retreat was probably made by somebody else, but, nevertheless, the Marine Corps' valor is called into question by their conduct in Iraq. An article in the L.A. Times says the whole Marine approach to Fallouja has turned out to be a "fiasco," quoting a Marine colonel. The article says that the Iraqi force that replaced the Marines was created "to avoid a bloodbath," which of course I don't wish on the Marines, but it looks like when they were faced with a bloody battle, the Marines chickened out. The Marines should not allow themselves to appear as cowards because of decisions made by others, who are probably civilian policy makers who have never seen combat and probably avoided service in Vietnam like Bush and Cheney, if they were old enough to face that prospect.

Although the Marines in the field may not be to blame, their senior commanders in Washington certainly are for knuckling under to their cowardly political overseers. The current Marine Corps commandant should resign. The only senior military commander who displayed the courage to stand up to Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Feith and company was former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, who was viciously attacked by them for standing up for his troops.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Why Do Some Christians Put Israel's Interests Ahead of America's?

Following up on the previous posting, I don't understand the position of many fundamentalist Christians who believe that Israel's future is more important than America's. One of these is apparently House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

According to his own Congressional website, "DeLay has increasingly taken a leadership role in foreign affairs through his work to expand freedom and his articulation of democratic principles. He was a forceful advocate of President Bush's decision to confront Saddam Hussein's aggression and received the Friend of Israel award this April from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews."

According to MSNBC, during the Republican Convention, DeLay staked "the Republican appeal to Jews on Bush’s removal of Saddam Hussein, his commitment to Israel and his ongoing crusade against Islamic fanatics. 'My friends, there is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is only the global war on terrorism,' DeLay told the crowd at the Plaza Hotel Monday." The report continued, "'If Israel falls to the terrorists, the entire free world will tremble. To forsake Israel now would be tantamount to forsaking Great Britain in 1940,' DeLay declared Monday. 'It is unthinkable, and it is unthinkable because the world wants to know if we believe freedom is worth fighting for.'"

As a Christian, I don't see why the the US should tie itself so tightly to a country that is based on non-Christian ideas. Certainly Christianity includes a lot of Jewish ideas, e.g., the Ten Commandments, but it also goes beyond these ideas, e.g., Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. Why do fundamentalist Christian Americans reject Jesus' teachings, like the Sermon on the Mount? I don't get it. These uniquely Christian ideas go to the heart of what America is about, or used to be about. Maybe that's why torture upsets me, but not the majority of Americans, who seem to have forsaken Christianity for Judaism, with its eye-for-an-eye morality, unlike the Christian turn-the-other-cheek morality.
Soldiers in Iraq Are Fighting for Israel, Not America

In an article in the New York Review of Books, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., makes no bones about the Israeli/Jewish basis for the war in Iraq. He cites the influence of Leo Strauss at the University of Chicago on many of the neo-conservatives who pressed for the war. He quotes from Anne Norton's book, Leo Strauss and the Politics of American Empire. She says the post-September 11 strategic plan of Paul Wolfowitz was "built conceptually and geographically around the centrality of Israel.... This strategy could be understood as advancing American interests and security only if one saw those as identical to the interests and security of the state of Israel."

Then he cites James Bamford's book, A Pretext for War. Bamford says that "despite the fact that Israeli intelligence, like that of the United States, had no evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the Israeli government, along with the media, deliberately hyped the dangers of Iraq before the war." Schlesinger does not note that one component of the Israel media, the Jerusalem Post, had a virulent, anti-Iraq neo-con on its editorial board, Richard Perle. According to Schlesinger, Bamford further suggests that the Mossad and Ranaan Gissin, "Sharon's top aide," rivaled Ahmed Chalabi in sending Washington phony intelligence designed to frighten President Bush.

It worries me that it was so easy to frighten Bush. We need a courageous President, who is not necessarily John Kerry, but is certainly not George Bush.

Torture Is a Bad Thing

The papers report that Iraq is not a problem for George Bush, but it is for me. Not only am I disappointed that WMD have never been found and that there is no clear link between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida, but I am very upset that the administration has not reacted strongly to distance itself from the torture carried out at Abu Ghraib and other locations, inside and outside of Iraq. Today, the New York Times reported that the CIA has hidden many more prisoners than at first believed.

As far as I am concerned, this administration went wrong when it first decided that the Geneva Convention did not apply to prisoners in Guantanamo, and then went on to fail to apply the Geneva Convention to other prisoners outside of Guantanamo. I think the whole group that decided not to apply the Geneva Convention should go, presumably including President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld, as well as White House and Justice Department staffers. Many high ranking military officers have dirty hands, starting with General Miller, who used to be incharge of Guantanamo, and now is in charge of Abu Ghraib. The recent military claims that many more low ranking soldiers were involved is just a smoke screen to protect high ranking officers. How can America use torture as a political tool? It's awful. The people who do it and approve it are awful.

I've believed since the start of the war that the CIA was using torture, but I thought it was probably sending prisoners to places like Morocco, so that it could claim that Americans were not torturing prisoners. Now, it turns out that nobody cares. It's fine for Americans to torture people. I don't think so. Where is the outrage? Why does American have to follow Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's example? They were the people we wanted to get rid of, and now we are saying that they were using the right tactics!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Spy In The Pentagon Raises Serious Policy and Loyalty Issues

The fact that many of those arguing for war in Iraq were Jews has been crystalized by the reports of security breaches by Pentagon officer Larry Franklin, who reportedly passed classified information to Israel via AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Many of the neoconservatives, particularly those connected with the American Enterprise Institute, such as Richard Perle, were Jews. Apparently Franklin is not a Jew, but a strong supporter of Israel.

Recent news reports say that AIPAC has been under investigation for years because of national security concerns, presumably something to do with Israel. This indicates that while AIPAC is supposed to be an American organization, it was suspected by the FBI of more sinister activities against the interests of the US. Also, one report said that despite Israel's denials, the US is a principle focus of Israel's intelligence efforts. Dennis Ross, who was the chief US negotiator for the Middle East under both Presidents Bush I and Clinton, now apparently works for AIPAC. So, who has he really been working for during the last 10 or 12 years?

A Wall Street Journal editorial on September 1 said of the scandal, "Nor is it part of a Zionist conspiracy run by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith." It went on to criticize the original CBS News report about Franklin's ties to Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith. The editorial said, "You don't need a secret decoder ring to know that this sentence [in the CBS report] is meant as a bit of innuendo against the Pentagon's 'neoconservatives,' who in this case happen to be Jewish (though Mr. Franklin is not)."

I totally disagree with the Wall Street Journal but compliment it for crystalizing the issues. It does look like Feith is running a Zionist conspiracy made up of neoconservatives, both Jewish and Gentile, that is not in the best interests of the US.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

General George Marshall and the Politicization of the US Military

General George Marshall was the most senior Army general during World War II, the man who selected and commanded the other senior generals during the war, including General Eisenhower. At the end of the war, President Truman called him the greatest living American. Because of his loyalty to the country of the United States, he did not vote in Presidential elections, so that he could serve whoever was elected with equal loyalty. He would no doubt have been either party's choice to run for President rather than Eisenhower, but he would not run. He did serve as Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense after he left the active military service.

As I see former senior military officers running for office, like Wesley Clark, or being used as tools and backdrops in this Presidential campaign, like Tommy Franks, I see the wisdom of General Marshall's position. Both parties make overt appeals to serving military personnel, as they do to firemen and policemen.

Last Friday on PBS' Washington Week, Gwen Ifill made the point that with the bitter polarization of politics, politicians have ceased to see themselves a public servants. Unfortunately, with a few exceptions, I think she is right. That means as the military becomes politicized, it will become less a profession of public service, creating the possibility that the military will become a domestic tool of the serving President, as in many dictatorships.

When Zell Miller and John Kerry Meet in Heaven

Well, I don't think Zell Miller is likely to make it to heaven. Zell Miller's speech at the Republican Convention tonight must be some kind of record for a Democratic Senator's personal attack on a fellow Democratic Senator, John Kerry. People talk about the dignity of the Senate, that it's the world's greatest deliberative body. It's obviously home to some maniacal haters. It's hard to imagine how much Miller must hate Kerry, and what an impolite, ungracious man Miller is. But such conduct seems to be typical of Georgia Senators, since his Senate colleague, Saxby Chambliss, got elected by attacking the patriotism of the former Senator from Georgia, Max Cleland, who lost three limbs in Vietnam. How dirty and filthy Georgia politics and politicians must be!

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

George W. Bush Is A Coward

I got tired of hearing during the Republican Convention tonight how brave George W. Bush is. Since he did not go to Vietnam and never faced combat, the test of his bravery was his reaction when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked. After he finally quit reading some children's story about a goat, according to Fahrenheit 911, he got into Air Force One in Florida and flew to Louisiana and then to Nebraska, and finally, after everything was over, he flew back to Washington. If he was the Commander-in-Chief, why didn't he fly straight back to Washington and take charge of the defense of the his country. He was scared to death. He was afraid to go back to Washington. The White House defense is that the Secret Service told him he couldn't go back to Washington until they could make sure it was secure. Neither Bush nor the Secret Service believed that the multi-billion dollar military that we pay to protect him and us was up to the job. But whether the military was up to the job or not, it was Bush's job to lead, and he fled. He was tested and found wanting.
Richard Perle's Bad Character Revealed

A report of a special committee the Hollinger International Corporation board has excoriated Richard Perle for poor conduct as a member of the board, enriching himself and CEO Conrad Black at the expense of the corporation and its stockholders, according to the New York Times. The criticism couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. It was through his contact with Conrad Black that he was on the editorial board of the Jerusalem Post.

I first encountered Richard Perle when he was a hard line, right wing Assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan Administration. More recently he was one of the most outspoken neo-cons promoting the war in Iraq, appearing on almost every news show in the run-up to the war. During that period, however, he had to resign as Chairman of the Defense Policy Board because of conflicts of interest. Hopefully, this terrible report criticizing his competence and integrity will end his public career, but that is probably too much to hope for.