Friday, December 30, 2005
My main concerns are:
1. Torture carried out by the US Government,
2. Poor progress of the Iraq War,
3. US failure to honor the rule of law,
4. Government corruption,
5. Immigration mess, and
6. Failure to follow up Hurricane Katrina.
Torture. There seems to be little doubt from reliable press reports that the US has used torture in Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. I express my concerns about torture as a Vietnam veteran who served in the Army artillery on the DMZ, an attorney who is a member of the Alabama bar, and a retired Foreign Service officer who spent over 20 years with the U.S. Department of State. In Vietnam, one of our worries was that we would be captured by the “barbaric” North Vietnamese or Viet Cong and tortured. If you are properly trained as a soldier to hate the enemy, there is always the temptation to torture or mistreat a prisoner you take, but on the other hand, if you are properly trained, you will resist this temptation and uphold what used to be the high standards of the West in general and the United States in particular. As a junior Foreign Service officer, one of my jobs was to look after Americans who were arrested in Brazil, where prisoners were often mistreated. It was my impression (based on an unscientific sampling of what I saw and heard) that those who carried out this mistreatment, which often fell short of real “torture,” were not normal people. They were often sexual deviates, among other things, who delighted in the pain of others. I cannot understand why the US has not reacted in horror at torture by Americans, whether military or CIA. Incidentally, as a Foreign Service officer, I worked regularly with CIA officers, including from the operations side in Washington and overseas, and I do not think they would use torture. I think the CIA people who used torture were probably some kind of paramilitary types, who are a small minority of all CIA employees. The press reports that the Bush Administration, particularly Vice President Cheney, supports the use of torture. I hope that the Congress will assert its authority and force the Government — the military, the CIA, and anybody else — to stop using torture against anyone in US custody. We should also stop “rendition” of prisoners to other countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe, where they may be tortured by the foreign police or military. Prisoners captured by the US should be treated humanely, no matter what the circumstances were under which they were captured. We cannot let Saddam Hussein be the model for our democracy.
Iraq War. I am very concerned that the Iraq War will end up creating more serious problems in the Middle East than it solves. Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but now it has become a breeding ground for terrorists. It may degenerate into civil war, with the Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds fighting one another. Iraq could become a giant, black hole of violence that will roil the Middle East for decades to come. Outside of the usual suspects, the Kurds are seen as a threat by Turkey, because of their desire for a greater Kurdistan, which would include part of Turkey, as well as part of Iraq. Although Turkey is a relatively moderate Muslim state, the disintegration of Iraq may radicalize Turkey and draw it into the already volatile mix. Furthermore, the US occupation of Iraq has made the US a focal point of Arab and Muslim hatred. Finally, I am concerned that the main beneficiary of our war there will be Iran, because we have facilitated the ascendancy of the Shiites in Iraq, who have a natural alliance with Iran, which is the only other predominately Shiite country in the world. Iran, of course, is working on an atomic bomb, which we are powerless to stop, because we destroyed our credibility on non-proliferation by being dead wrong about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, and because we are so tied down in Iraq, we have no remaining forces even to make a credible military threat against Iran (not to mention North Korea). In addition, I am disappointed that the Iraq War prevented us from killing or capturing Osama bin Laden, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks. I am concerned that we entered the ill-advised Iraq War because of pressure from Jews, who may have been more concerned about the welfare of Israel than about the US. Many of the neo-conservatives who argued for the war were Jews — Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, and William Kristol, just to name a few. In light of the Abramoff and AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) scandals, I am concerned that American politicians are sending Christian soldiers to die in Iraq in return for Jewish money. In the old days, Jews were mostly Democrats, but both of these scandals involve Jews who were trying to influence this Republican Administration and Republicans in Congress (and succeeding). I realize that this is a politically incorrect accusation, but one of the concerns underlying all of the issues I raise in this letter is the American abandonment of the New Testament of the Bible. The Old (Jewish) Testament said “an eye for an eye,” (torture?), but the New (Christian) Testament said, “Love your enemies.” Christians should certainly be tolerant of Jews, but Christians should also live up to their own moral standards. By waging what is a particularly Jewish war in Iraq, we are losing sight of those standards. I have not seen the new Spielberg movie, “Munich,” but I am concerned that it is propaganda supporting the Old Testament, Jewish response to terrorism. I am also disappointed that the US Government does not trust its American troops in Iraq. Most senior officials are protected by private contractors, such as Blackwater or Triple Canopy, not by soldiers or marines. More and more the war is being fought by these private contractors, who may earn ten times what their counterparts in the military make. Many are not Americans. Giving so much money and prestige to these non-military fighters dishonors the troops who are fighting for our country and flag, not just for money.
Rule of Law. US failure to adhere to the rule of law is related to the torture issue, but much broader. For me it began with the US abrogation of the Kyoto Treaty and Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. I was particularly upset by the American failure to adhere to the Vienna Convention, which deals with consular access to prisoners arrested in a foreign country, because as a vice consul, I personally used the Vienna Convention to protect Americans arrested in Brazil. As a veteran, I was also dismayed by the US failure to adhere to the Geneva Convention. We will have no basis to protest if American soldiers are captured and tortured by their enemies. (According to The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hitler “considered denouncing the Geneva Convention in order… ‘to make the enemy realize that we are determined to fight for our existence with all the means at our disposal.’ …When some of the officers present raised legal objections Hitler retorted angrily: ‘To hell with that!’” (Page 1100). Hitler apparently did not follow through on his threat.) I thought early in the Bush Administration that these actions indicated only contempt for international law, but as time has passed, the Bush Administration has shown contempt for domestic law as well, up to and including the Constitution and the judicial branch of government in general. If the Bush Administration had been interested in law, it would have negotiated some kind of exit from Kyoto and the ABM Treaty, but it just said, like Hitler, “To hell with that.” Now we find that the Administration created a prison in Cuba to try to escape American law, that it engages in “extraordinary rendition” to evade American legal protection for prisoners, and that it even does weird things with prisoners arrested in the US. The US courts have slapped the Administration’s hand for its handling of Jose Padilla. It remains to be seen what action the Supreme Court will take, if any. Recently revelations about National Security Agency spying on private American citizens have been published. The Administration’s denial of habeas corpus (a right granted in the Constitution, Article I, section 9) for Padilla and possibly others, and its violation of the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures by wiretapping without a court warrant are certainly serious concerns to law-abiding Americans. It may warrant impeachment proceedings. An editorial in the financial newspaper Barron’s for December 26 stated, “Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later.”
Corruption. Jack Abramoff, Congressman Tom DeLay, Congressman Duke Cunningham, White House aide David Safavian, Congressman Bob Ney, and the list of possibly corrupt politicians and lobbyists goes on. AIPAC, which is supposed to be a lobby for Israel, was found to be spying against the US for Israel. Outside government, we find a number of CEO’s in trouble with the law, from Joe Nacchio of Qwest here in Colorado, to Ken Lay of Enron, and even to business icon Jack Welch, who according to the December 26 issue of Barron’s, cooked the books at GE to the tune of about $6 billion to make his reign as CEO look better. I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg, mainly those who got caught because they were too greedy. I am particularly outraged at Halliburton and Vice President Cheney, who personally benefits financially from Halliburton’s profits, for their war profiteering in Iraq. Halliburton has not performed well, but has raked in millions, perhaps billions, from unsupervised contracts with the US government. Others, who were perhaps a little less greedy, have stayed below the radar and gotten away with billions. I was particularly irked that the US Chamber of Commerce came out in favor of illegal immigration, no doubt because their constituents, the major businesses of America, benefit from this illegal traffic. I think it is odd that Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper has not gotten more criticism for employing an illegal alien, working for him at the Cherry Cricket restaurant in Denver, who killed an off-duty cop. Apparently businessmen think that violating laws regarding immigration is not really breaking the law. I think it is. If you don’t like the law, change it, don’t violate it.
Immigration. As I noted above in connection with corruption, immigration is a big mess. I think this country needs a policy and needs to adhere to it. I don’t favor amnesty. If we want to have a guest worker program, it should start prospectively. We should not reward people who have come to the US illegally for committing an illegal act. This is one point on which I disagree with Senator John McCain, whom I respect for standing up on many other issues that agree with him on, from torture to funding political campaigns. More generally, I don’t believe that the Department of Homeland Security is up to any of its jobs. It failed in New Orleans after Katrina; it’s failing to control immigration, and it would certainly fail to protect the homeland from another attack. Somebody needs to do something to whip the Department into shape, although I think it is probably impossible. It’s too big; its various activities — from the Coast Guard to the Secret Service, from border patrol to FEMA — are too diverse to produce any synergy.
Katrina. The failure to help New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina epitomizes many of the failures listed above. On the Jewish issue, many families in New York who suffered losses in 9/11 received millions of dollars from the federal government. Osama bin Laden probably attacked the World Trade Center because the New York financial district contains one of the highest concentrations of Jews of any place in the world outside of Israel. A number of Jews working in the financial district were killed, and their families and politically connected friends demanded huge sums in reparations. They got it through their enormous power on Capitol Hill. Payments to New Yorkers from the reparations fund run by Kenneth Feinberg came to about $7 billion, separate from money for reconstruction. If New Orleans had had as many Jewish residents as New York City, it would have been buried in federal money before the rain stopped falling. In addition on the corruption side, then-Senator Tom Daschle’s wife was a lobbyist for American Airlines, one of the companies that could have been sued by victims of the 9/11 attacks. Thus, he shepherded the bill through Congress which made the federal government responsible for paying victims, rather than American Airlines or its insurers. The residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are just plain old Americans, and the federal government could care less about them. They were treated like the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, who were also just ordinary citizens, like me.
It looks like the government only does what lobbyists and campaign donors pay it to do. I hope that you will consider changing that.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Condi Rice, of course, was in charge of national security, but took no responsibility, nor did Don Rumsfeld, who could have sent some Air Force fighters to take out the airliners before they hit the WTC and the Pentagon, thus saving thousands of lives, if he had been doing his job.
Jordan's King Abdullah makes Bush, who hid in Louisiana or Nebraska after the 9/11 attacks, look like a helpless crybaby. And his young, beautiful Queen Rania makes Laura look like an inarticulate, fuddy-duddy old housewife. But of course Laura, who seems to be an honest, intelligent, decent woman, comes off much better in comparison to Queen Rania than stupid, old, dishonest George does in comparison to Abdullah.
To me, all the debate about the intelligence is largely irrelevant. I'm glad the Democrats are finally doing something. But the issue is not the intelligence. The issue is using 9/11 to go to war with a country that had little or nothing to do with 9/11. The neo-cons wanted to get Saddam. Cheney has probably wanted to get Saddam ever since he was Secretary of Defense during the first Iraq war, when Bush I stopped him from marching to Baghdad and taking out Saddam. We now see how smart Bush I was compared with Bush II, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and company. Bush I was a patriot. Bush II and his cronies are just sucking money out of the US Government as fast as they can. In gratitude for his largess with the people's money, Bush II's rich friends will no doubt look after him financially for the rest of his life. It's ironic that the Republicans argue to reduce taxes "because it's your money," but when they get it, they don't treat it as yours; they give it to their rich friends, who pay proportionately little in taxes.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
However, you don't need the Constitution to know that torture is wrong. Torture is an affront to human decency. We have advanced as a civilization from the days when the church tortured "infidels" in the Inquisition, in the name of Christ, etc. Now we seem to be back there again. Is it an accident that Bush's two appointees to the Supreme Court have been Catholics, the church that ran the Inquisition?
My opinion is that Bush and Cheney, and all the politicians who fail to speak out against torture are failed human beings. They are trash -- black and white (Rice and Bush). They are vile, filthy, inhuman scum. They make me ashamed to be an American. How can so-called "Christians" support them? I expect Colorado Springs to be swallowed up by fire and brimstone any minute.
It's not that these impulses to torture are unusual. Today we have many child molesters, and various, other types of perverts in our society, but we try to keep them under control. In World War II, we had the German Holocaust, the Japanese Bataan death march, and the Japanese atrocities committed in China. We had My Lai in Vietnam. In any war troops who are encouraged to kill the enemy will develop a hatred for the enemy that will lead to atrocities, if not controlled by better men at higher levels. There are always atrocities committed in wars. But that's why we have the Geneva Convention, and the other international laws to prevent torture and other atrocities. Men agree on them in more peaceful times when heads are cooler, and then should adhere to them when passions are hot. But Bush and company rejected them after 9/11. Bush used Saddam Hussein has his role model.
This is awful. Cooler headed, more moral leaders of our society need to rise up against Bush and Cheney and make them change their policies on torture. John McCain and Jimmy Carter have recently done so. More power to them!
Where is the so-called "Christian right" when there is a truly Christian issue to be handled? They are missing in action, demonstrating how little they understand the Bible. A pox on their houses!
Monday, October 31, 2005
Although Joe Wilson was an ambassador to an African country, he was not one of the top tier of career Foreign Service officers. He was more or less equivalent to a midlevel general in the military, most of whom are never heard from again after they retire. He seems to have some political connections, but again, not of the highest level. He did not have the personal clout to threaten the White House. He wrote an op-ed attacking the White House's WMD justification for the Iraq War, but a lot of other people -- academics, think tank staffers, other retired government officials -- wrote articles attacking various aspects of the Iraq War, presumably without attracting the vicious attacks from Libby, Rove and Cheney that Wilson did.
Therefore, it makes sense to me that the White House saw the CIA as undercutting the White House rationale for the war and thus as a major bureaucratic enemy in Washington. When the White House staff found out that Wilson was married to a CIA agent, they assumed the worst: that he had been put up to his attack on the White House by the CIA. Thus, as a representative of the CIA he came under the kind of attack usually reserved for major Washington players, which he personally was not.
Friday, October 07, 2005
So, hooray for the Nobel Committee and for the IAEA! Truth will out. The UN is on the side of the angels. The Bush administration and all its evangelical supporters are on the other side. It's pretty clear when you see where this administration stands on torture at Guantanamo and in Iraq. This administration and its supporters stand for evil, illustrated currently by their opposition to Sen. McCain's bill. Clearly the 9/11 terrorists were more evil, but apparently Bush decided that you have to fight evil with evil. I don't think that was the way to go.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
What appears to have happened is that sometime after the Clinton agreement and the tantrum by the Bush administration, Pakistan's A.Q. Khan dropped by North Korea and offered to sell them uranium enrichment technology, because he wanted a little (or a lot of) extra money. The North Koreans thought this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and jumped at it. It turned out to be somewhat of a once in a lifetime opportunity, because once the US learned what Khan was up to, they got Pakistan to rein him in, although they closed the barn door after the horse had escaped.
When the Bush administration learned that North Korea had gotten access to enrichment technology they threw a hissy fit, which is not very helpful in diplomacy. They managed to:
-- cancel the agreement, which provided some restraint on North Korea's activities,
--provoke North Korea to withdraw from the NPT, and
--get the IAEA inspectors thrown out.
All of which left us less secure and more in the dark about what the DPRK was doing.
Now we have a proposal, in principle, to get us more or less back where we were several years ago. At least this administration has more or less come to its senses. The DPRK probably never will, but it's better to have one of the parties at the table to be sane. Probably a lot of the progress on the US side been made possible by getting John Bolton out of the State Department, where he managed to sabotage any similar attempt by Colin Powell. Also, I tend to believe the reports that the Chinese threatened to embarrass Bush and blame the US publicly for the failure of the negotiations if we didn't sign on.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
One of the first things we needed was a list of items to be controlled by a missile control regime, and one of the State Department experts on controlling high technology was Bill Root, who was the director of the office in the Economic Bureau that handled COCOM issues, the Coordinating Committee that allowed Western countries to coordinate their exports of high technology items to the Soviet Union. Root's assistant, the deputy director, was Vic Comras. Richard Perle took a strong interest in COCOM issues from his Pentagon roost. He and his staff frequently fought with Root and his staff on COCOM issues, just as he and his staff fought with me and my associates (I was too junior to have a staff) on MTCR issues.
One day I was going over a draft list of controlled items for the MTCR with Bill Root. I think that I had left INR and had been reassigned to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), where I continued to work on MTCR issues. (ACDA was then headed by the Ken Adelman, now an outspoken neo-con. It has since been abolished as a separate agency and folded into the State Department.)
Root was explaining how to make the most effective use of technical specifications, so that manufacturers could understand them, and so that the list actually did what we wanted it to do. While we were talking, he got a phone call from Richard Perle. He suggested that we break for lunch and continue after lunch. When I came back to his office after lunch, his staff told me that he had retired from the State Department. I guess he had had it with Perle. Unfortunately, I continued to cross swords with Perle, his minions and successors for years. I believe that one reason the MTCR is so weak is because Perle wanted it so strong. The Western countries would not accept a regime that was as restrictive as Perle wanted, but because of Perle's pressure within the government, it was impossible for the US Government to reach a reasonable compromise with the Europeans and the Japanese.
Saturday, September 03, 2005
I had started working in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) on Latin American nuclear proliferation issues because I had served a tour in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and then returned to work on the Brazil desk in the Department. While I was there, the INR analyst who had handled Soviet scientific and technological matters for years retired, and nobody wanted the portfolio. So, I volunteered to take it. According to the article on IIASA, this must have been around 1983, during the Reagan administration.
Not long after that, Richard Perle, who was then Assistant Secretary of Defense, decided to end US cooperation with IIASA. I can't remember why, but presumably because he saw it as a one way flow of technology to the old Soviet Union. I found out about Perle's move through Bill Salmon, who had been Science Counselor at the American Embassy in Paris, and had returned to Washington to work as a scientific advisor to the 7th floor, where the Secretary of State and the Under Secretaries work. He and I both tried to preserve a US role in IIASA on the basis that it was harmless (which it was) and that the scientific cooperation was useful. However, Perle was too well connected politically within the Reagan Administration for a couple of non-political State Department types to defeat. So, soon the official US connection to IIASA was broken. As far as I remember, there were no interagency meetings about the decision. Nobody at a policy level wanted to take on Perle.
I was disappointed because there was no debate on the merits of the decision. Was there really any technology leaking? Probably a little, but probably technology that did not matter and was of no military assistance to the Soviet Union. But it was something that Perle could show his fellow conservative hard-liners that he had done to be tough on the Soviet Union.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
There were a number of Soviet emigres who worked on US-Soviet relations in the bad old days of the Cold War. In most cases they were virulently anti-Soviet, which is understandable, since they had hated their native country strongly enough to leave it and come to America. Over the years, a number of wealthy businessmen have paid large political contributions to get an ambassadorial appointment back to the "old country" they came from. That's fine, but can people who leave their own country be objective about the best policies toward it for the US? They should get to know America first, and let their grandchildren work on foreign policy. It's probably okay for them to work in some second-tier role, in academia perhaps, writing articles about foreign policy, or working at the RAND Corporation (as Khalilzad did early on) or some other think tank in a consulting capacity much like at a university. But actually formulating US policy should be left with people who grew up in the US -- for whom there should be no doubt where their loyalties lie. In the old days such newcomers had trouble getting security clearances necessary to work on foreign policy, but it doesn't seem to be a problem today.
Secondly, there are some problems with sending people back to their home countries (or nearby) as representatives of the United States. People there either love them or hate them, but their opinions are often formed not because of the policies they pursue, but because of opinions about them personally in their native lands. Do the Iraqis see Khalilzad as an American or an Afghan? Certainly he speaks for the US, they probably do not see him exactly as they saw John Negroponte, who is of recent Greek ancestry, but at least not an immigrant.
What about Khalilzad's policy recommendations? He had a lot of input on the new Iraqi constitution, but seems to have caved on issues such as the role of Islamic law in the new Iraq and the way women are treated. Is that because it's the best course of action for the US, or is he just used to Islamic law and a subordinate role for women?
Friday, August 26, 2005
What Iraqis don't want is a united Iraq. Apparently this is okay with Brooks and his buddies. The Iraqis want three separate countries, perhaps loosely united for a short time. But over the longer term the Shiites want to unite with Iran, the Kurds want to form their own country, Kurdistan, taking the parts of Turkey and Iran that are predominately Kurdish. The Sunnis lose out, because the Kurds and Shiites have all the oil, but the Sunnis have the heart and soul of Iraq, the city of Baghdad, which will have no oil income to support it relatively huge population. The Bushies don't care. Already, under Bush's US rule Baghdad has no infrastructure, no security, no electricity, no water, no sewer.
There is, he [Galbraith] says, no meaningful Iraqi identity. In the north, you've got a pro-Western Kurdish population. In the south, you've got a Shiite majority that wants a "pale version of an Iranian state." And in the center you've got a Sunni population that is nervous about being trapped in a system in which it would be overrun. In the last election each group expressed its authentic identity, the Kurds by voting for autonomy-minded leaders, the Shiites for clerical parties and the Sunnis by not voting. This constitution gives each group what it wants.
"It's not a problem if a country breaks up, only if it breaks up violently," Galbraith says. "Iraq wasn't created by God. It was created by Winston Churchill."
Churchill wasn't infallible, but he was a heck of a lot smarter than George W. Bush. W has Saddam's gun; that's all he really wanted. He can brandish it in his father's face and ridicule him for not killing Saddam, while Iraq becomes a hotbed of anti-Western terrorism under W's rule. W will let somebody else worry about that after he's gone. It will be interesting to see if David Brooks is gone from the NYT after the Bush adminstration leaves town. I really thought he was smarter than this.
Monday, August 22, 2005
In the Washington Post, Kissinger raises the question of what criteria we use to determine whether we are winning in Iraq. If we don't win, Iraq may degenerate into civil war, and the radicals will become ascendant in the Middle East. It would be ironic if the domino theory that politicians used as a justification for the Vietnam War turned out to be more applicable to the Iraq war.
Now is when we need the support of the international community, but because Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld gave the finger to the UN and the international community, we are unlikely to get much support. It may be that they will be so worried about the world instability that the US bull-in-the-china-shop approach has created that they will do something, if only for their own self preservation. But sending John Bolton to the UN is yet another example of Bush giving the finger to the international community, making the cooperation of other countries less likely.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
The US invasion of Iraq opened Pandora's box. It made Iraq a hotbed of Middle Eastern terrorism, which it was not before the invasion. We must put the lid back on. We need to double or triple the number of troops in Iraq for years to come, until order is restored and the infrastructure works -- electricity, water, sewers, etc. We need to kick out Halliburton and get some competent people in there who know what they are doing to restore services.
This is our chance. Declare the Iraqi efforts so far a failure and take control. Do it now! It's our country, and now we are just destroying it.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
"Pakistan today conducted a successful test of its first-ever ground-launched cruise missile HATF-VII, also known as Babur,'' the army said from Islamabad. The "Babur cruise has the capability to carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 500 kilometers (300 miles) with a pinpoint accuracy.''
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
India is not such a bad country in this regard, and we probably need to work out some transitional arrangement for it to enter the nuclear club, but just to admit it to the club won't work, because everybody else will want to follow India's lead. We need some new agreement to replace or supplement the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It would have to set standards that tend to discourage other countries from following India's example, and that place stringent controls on their nuclear weapons. Ironically, we probably are happy that India has nuclear weapons with which to deter Chinese aggression, while we presumably are unhappy that there is something of a nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration has shown total disregard for legalistic solutions to international problems. But that's what we need here. It's hard to envision a network of military alliances that would send US troops in on India's side of it fights China, but would bring our troops in on Pakistan's side if India fights Pakistan. Meanwhile what do we do about Iran and North Korea, and maybe later Brazil, Argentina and some other countries? They see India as the model for developing nuclear weapons. Just hang tough and you'll get to keep them.
The fact that negotiations with Iran and North Korea are going nowhere illustrates the weakness of this policy. It was probably influenced by John Bolton, who thankfully will be otherwise occupied, until we bring the issue to the UN Security Council for sanctions. Speaking of sanctions, what will they be? It's easy for the US to support any sanctions, because we do almost no business with Iran or North Korea. But if you don't do any business, sanctions have no effect. Countries that do more business with Iran (Russia, China) will be much less enthusiastic about sanctions.
Monday, August 08, 2005
I was reminded of this when I checked on the Simon Wiesenthal Center web site for my previous post. Complaining about this Presbyterian action is at the top of the Center's list of concerns. It also complains about an action by the Disciples of Christ calling on Israel to tear down the wall it is building to separate Israeli Jews from Palestinian Arabs.
I certainly support these actions by the churches. Israel must be more loving in its treatment of the Palestinians, who lived in Palestine for centuries before it became Israel as a result of a UN resolution shortly after the end of World War II. Hooray for main line Christian churches! I don't totally understand, however, the love affair between fundamentalist Christian evangelicals and Israel.
From the LA Times story, it sounds like Arnall is probably a sleazebag. It says his mortgage company, Ameriquest, used boiler room tactics, bait-and-switch tactics, etc. But he made a lot of money, some of which he apparently gave to George Bush and his Republican colleagues. His main claim to political fame is that he financed the Simon Wiesenthal Center to preserve the memory of the Holocaust.
I have been very worried that one origin of the Iraq war was that after 9/11 Jews paid Bush and company to send Christian soldiers to kill Muslims for Israel. That's probably too cynical, but this is some indirect evidence of that motivation.
And we need to re-establish the Iraqi infrastructure. Maybe Saddam Hussein is responsible for the damage to the electrical grid, the water and sewer system, the oil wells, etc. Or, maybe we did more damage than expected when we bombed the hell out of Iraq during the invasion. In any case, the Pottery Barn rule enunciated by Colin Powell applies. You break it, you own it, and you've got to fix it. A significant percentage of ordinary Iraqis think life was better under Hussein than it is now, because there is no security, and public services don't work. Halliburton is incompetent to get the public services working despite the billions it is getting paid.
Iraq is likely to degenerate into civil war. The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds will end up fighting each other, each with additional support or opposition from foreign neighbors. The Iranians will help the Shiites. The bulk of the Arab world (which is mainly Sunni) will help the Sunnis, and the Turks will work against the Kurds, because they fear the creation of a Kurdistan nation that will include part of Turkey. We opened Pandora's box when we invaded, and Bush and company don't have a clue how to close it.
I think Sam Donaldson was right on ABC news on Sunday morning. The administration wants the Iraq constitutional assembly to stay on schedule and wants all the other elections, etc., on schedule, so that we can declare victory and get the hell out. It worked in Vietnam. (Everybody knows how well that war ended.) Bush and company think it will work in Iraq, too. It will probably work about as well. Remember the genocide in the Cambodian killing fields. Basically the world looked the other way, and we will probably look the other way when the killing fields in Iraq run red with blood again. It probably won't be Saddam Hussein who does the blood letting, but it will probably be somebody about as bad.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
I was assigned to be the Science Counselor at the American Embassy in Warsaw, where my main job was supposed to be to manage scientific cooperation between the US and Poland under an arrangement named the Maria Sklodowska Curie Fund II. It was Fund II, because the first fund had been closed during the bad old days of Polish martial law. An agreement to work under the second Fund had been signed just before I left for Poland, and it was to last for five years.
After about one year, Newt Gingrich and the Republicans took over Congress and cancelled the funding for our Polish cooperation. The agreement had a clause that said if either of the parties was unable to fund the cooperation, it would end. This clause had been included with Poland in mind, because it faced so many financial problems as it came out of 50 years of Communist rule, but America took advantage of it. The Polish Foreign Ministry called me in almost weekly to complain that the US was not living up to its agreement. I told them that I would report their complaints to Washington, but if they were really serious, they would raise the matter with the Ambassador in Warsaw, or with the Secretary of State or one of his immediate subordinates in Washington. But Poland then wanted more than anything to be included in NATO, and it would not do anything that might endanger that goal, such as making a big stink about the Maria Sklodowska Curie Fund. So, they kept raising the matter with me. Although I knew there was nothing personal about it, I ended up taking it personally. I began to feel that I was at least partly responsible for American breaking its word to Poland. I began to feel that I could not represent an America that did not keep its word.
It happened that about this time I became eligible to retire from the Foreign Service, and after discussing it with my wife, I had about decided to retire, so that I would not have to represent a dishonest government. You may say that it is naive to think that any government is going to be totally honest. But I think that if a government is going to be dishonest, there should be a reason for it. For example, virtually every Foreign Service officer will have to lie at one time or another because he or she knows something from intelligence that he or she cannot admit knowing without compromising that intelligence. (Unless of course he has the same lack of morals and patriotism as Robert Novak.) But in this case, the United States was not going to be bankrupted by paying for continued scientific cooperation with Poland, which was the circumstance foreseen by the clause in question.
In any case, I was about to retire, when out of the blue I got a call from Washington asking me if I would agree to go to Rome, where the Science Counselor had be unexpectedly removed. He was not a Foreign Service officer, and the State Department said that after several years, he could not continue to serve in Rome without becoming one, which for some reason he would not do. So, my wife agreed to move from Warsaw to Rome with me.
When I got to Rome, it turned out that one of my main duties was to handle issues involving the North Korean nuclear program, in particular the follow-up to the KEDO agreement, which promised North Korea two Western style reactors that do not produce weapons usable by-products in return for shutting down the plutonium production reactor(s) that North Korea had been using. In addition, the US, Japan and South Korea promised North Korea to supply it with a certain amount of fuel oil to provide energy to replace that produced by the indigenous reactors until the new non-proliferating reactors could come on line.
Once again, the Republican Congress refused to appropriate the money for all the fuel oil that the US had promised. So, one of my jobs was to go the Italians (both in their national capacity and at that time as the Presidency of the European Union) and ask them to contribute money to make up for what the Congress had refused to appropriate. Following up on my experience with the Maria Sklodowska Curie Fund II in Poland, I was not happy. I felt that once again the US was failing to honor its promises. Thus, I told the Embassy that I would stay until Italy relinquished its presidency of the EU, but then I would retire.
Another more personal matter intervened, as well. After I agreed to move from Warsaw to Rome, my wife and I decided that it would save the government money, and would be interesting for us, to drive from Warsaw to Rome. We could have had our car shipped, and had the government purchase airline tickets, etc., but we could drive in a few days. Hotels, food and gas would certainly be less than airline tickets and the cost of shipping our car. Plus, we could carry stuff in our car that would reduce the amount we had to ship at government expense. In any case, we had packed everything. Big stuff had been shipped to Rome. The car was loaded to roof, and was parked outside ready to leave that night for Krakow, our first stop. I was saying good-bye to friends in the Embassy, and while I was in the defense attache's office, someone came in to tell me that I had just had a call from Rome saying, "Don't leave!" It was tough to get me the message, because the call had come to a Pole in our personnel section who could not come to the defense attache's office, because it was in a secure, American-only part of the Embassy. So, the Pole had to find an American to deliver the message.
It turned out that the problem was that Newt Gingrich had closed down the American government, and only essential personnel could work. However, I had no place to live, either in Warsaw (since we had moved out) or in Rome. I was furious and called Rome. Because I was just being a good soldier and going where the State Department asked me to go, I didn't know any of the personalities in Rome. It turned out that the DCM (the deputy ambassador) was an old friend from an assignment in Brasilia, Brazil. He arranged some deal with the personnel office in Rome that allowed us to travel. But for what I considered a personal insult, possibly stranding by wife and me with nowhere to live in Warsaw during a cold November, Newt Gingrich won my undying displeasure (a mild word). I also thought it was ironic that the Republicans claim to be the party of business, but if there is one thing that businesses have to do, it's meet a payroll. Newt couldn't do that. Now meeting payrolls is less important. Many businesses now leave their employees twisting in the wind, especially when it comes to health care and retirement. Newt was ahead of his time, unfortunately for us all.
Ironically, when we returned to northern Virginia after I retired, in the first election I voted in after my return to the States, I voted for Republican John Warner for senator, because I thought (and still think) he was (and is) a good man. But he was the exception. In general, no more Republicans.
However, I still think Goldwater, like John Warner and John McCain, was probably a good man, much better than most of the rest of the sleazeballs currently occupying the seats of power in the Republican party he helped create.
I enlisted when I came up 1-A to try to maintain some control over my destiny. However, I was sent to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, where very few of my colleagues from Alabama were sent. Then, after going through basic training, I was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and given further training there with no one from my basic training unit. Then only three of us who had trained together at Fort Sill were sent to Vietnam together, and although we were sent to the same artillery battalion, we were sent to different batteries, and so never saw each other after the first few days. As individual soldiers reached the end of their tour, they were replaced individually, so that the unit in Vietnam was in constant flux, a few old hands and a few new ones.
Of course this created problems for unit cohesiveness in Vietnam, but I think that one of the worst problems was coming home, because there was no support. Most of your buddies were still back in Vietnam, and the ones who had left before you were back home wherever they lived, some in New York, some in California, etc. After several years, I did see one of my old battery mates in the Washington, DC, area, where we both had moved by coincidence. I think this lack of support had a lot to do with the feeling of alienation when troops came back singly. The country rejected them as war criminals, and they didn't have anywhere to turn for support. The guys who might have supported them were halfway across the country. And the veterans who were nearby did not have the same shared experiences as the guys who had served in Vietnam with you.
I think the current system of maintaining the integrity of entire units is better. But when you have a unit suffer significant casualties, as the Marines from Ohio did, then it is tougher. But even then there is a shared support system for the families of the dead, because other families live nearby.
In additions to the points raised by Quillen, I wonder: Why can't dogs talk? Why do some turtles live longer than human beings? Why do so many human beings become sick and useless years before they die? Who designed the dodo bird?
Friday, August 05, 2005
Karl Rove made fun of "liberals" who thought that the police, rather than the military, had to be the front line against terrorism. Rove said that after the 9/11 attacks, liberals, "wanted to prepare indictments, therapy and understanding" for the attackers. Rove clearly thought indictments were useless, but after the London underground bombings, Tony Blair didn't declare war on any new countries, as Bush declared war on Iraq. Rather, Blair has increased the role of the British police in fighting terrorism. No doubt Rove ridicules Blair and the British people in private, despite the fact that the British bombers appear to be home grown in Britain, rather than people who have come from the Middle East specifically to carry out the bombings.
Bush has no clue what he's doing, or what needs to be done to protect the American people, but he knows that he likes being a war president. By the way, how's the war in Iraq going these days? How many American military have been killed? How many innocent Iraqi civilians have been killed? How much better is life for the average Iraqi? How democratic is the new Iraqi government under the new constitution going to be?
Friday, July 29, 2005
The problem was that the agreement called on the Western parties, the US, Japan, and South Korea, to provide heating oil to North Korea while work was proceeding on the non-proliferating, Western design nuclear reactors that we had promised North Korea to replace their indigenous reactors that were producing the bad bomb-making plutonium. However, the US Congress, under its non-treaty-honoring Republican leadership would not appropriate enough money to meet the US obligations under the treaty. So, we browbeat our allies to make up the difference, presumably because they were more concerned about the future of the world than the Republican Congress was.
I didn't like that any more than I liked punishing children for the sins of their parents, despite the precedent for such punishment in the Old Testament. (See previous post).
So, as I approached the end of my career, it was as if the Republicans became less concerned about the protecting the US, and more greedy (giving money that should have gone to protecting the US to their wealthy campaign contributors instead).
These current negotiations with the North Koreans bring back bad memories. Although Christopher Hill is a career Foreign Service officer (who spent time in Poland as I did), I don't trust the US negotiating position. The North Koreans are crazy, but so is John Bolton, who was in charge of this process until recently. And Condi Rice named him to be Ambassador to the UN, not a good sign for Condi's competence.
While I was in Rome around 1996 or '97, I went to a party celebrating the launch of an Italian satellite, as I recall somewhat vaguely, and struck up a conversation with a man who worked for an Italian telecommunications company, maybe the state telecom company. He said that America must really hate him and his little daughter, because it had refused his daughter a visa to visit the US because of the company he worked for.
It turned out the problem was the Helms-Burton law, named after its sponsors in the Senate and House, two bigots and proud of it. I was appalled that the US was punishing children to affect the conduct of their parents. But I had already decided to leave the Foreign Service because I did not feel that the US was living up the standards that it should. Helms-Burton was passed by Republicans, but President Bill Clinton was enforcing it. This was just one more sleazy thing I was glad to be leaving behind.
After I returned to the US, I happened to be watching the mini-series "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" on TV, partly because it involved diplomats in Rome. Lo and behold, one the sleazy things that one of the "nice" the Nazi diplomats there was doing was threatening the child of the Jewish heroine, Natalie, to get her to force her uncle to make propaganda broadcasts against the Allies. How little things change! I didn't personally take any actions against children, but I had worked at an embassy that did. Jesse Helms liked those Nazi tactics! What an awful man!
I'm not sure that the TV mini-series exactly followed the novel. I can't find exactly what I think I remember seeing on TV, but here are some pretty close passages (from the Pocket paperback edition):
Our friend and rescuer, Dr. Werner Beck [the Nazi diplomat], is moving heaven and earth to get us released, or at the very least, to designate three other Americans from the list for the retaliation, if it comes to that. (p. 250)
I have concealed this news from Natalie. Her dread of the Germans and what they may do to her baby borders on the psychotic. (p. 251)
Aaron was describing Werner Beck's intervention to quash the summons from the secret police, at the time when alien Jews had been interned. (p. 294)
"My guess would be," said the doctor, "that this Dr. Beck is preventing you from leaving Italy."
"How preposterous!" exclaimed Jastrow.
But Castelnuovo's words stirred a horrible dark sickness in Natalie. "Why? What would there be in it for him?" (p. 295)
With a curl of his lips, and a total confusion of f's and th's, Beck retorted, "But there's also the question of Mrs. Henry [Natalie] and her baby 'rotting here.' And there's the more serious question of how long you can stay on in Siena."
Natalie interjected, "What's the question about our staying in Siena?"
"Why the OVRA pressure never lets up on me, Mrs. Henry. You realize that you belong in a concentration camp with the rest of the alien Jews....." (p. 339)
Dumbly Natalie nodded. She went to the library to draft the [misleading] letter [to Beck], feeling -- half with terror, half with relief -- that the lead had in an eyeblink passed from her to her uncle, and that she and her baby were now in the dark rapids. (p. 342)
Monday, July 25, 2005
I have a very low opinion of Bush, Cheney, and Republicans in general as military leaders. Bush joined the National Guard to stay out of Vietnam, and even worse, after the Air Force had trained him as a jet fighter pilot at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not a million or more, Bush said, "Hey, I'm going to Harvard Business School. I'm done with the National Guard. The US can take its hundreds of thousands of dollars that it spent on me and shove it!" That is in general Bush's attitude toward the government's money (spend it on yourself or your friends, it's free), and his attitude toward defending America. He and Cheney are cowards. After 9/11, Bush flew to Louisiana and Nebraska rather than return to Washington to lead the country, and Cheney went into some cave under or near the White House. These are not men that I would want to follow into battle.
In general the people who favored Iraq, Republicans and Jews, won't fight for it. How many children of wealthy Republicans are in the military in Iraq? And how many Jews? The neo-cons who lobbied so strongly for the Iraq war were predominantly Jews. One was my old nemesis, Richard Perle.
That there is something wrong with Jewish attitudes is illustrated by the dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Sharon and London Mayor Livingstone. As this article in Haaretz shows, Jews are the verbal attack dogs of the world, currently led by a hate-filled Sharon. As Livingstone implied, Israeli Jews are at least partly to blame for inflaming the hatred of Muslims which has resulted in the current rash of terrorism around the world. Of course, there is a lot of bad blood between Britain and Israel, because before World War II, Palestine was a British protectorate, and Jews living there introduced terrorism into the Middle East in order to kill British officials, most notably when they blew up the King David Hotel. In addition, the American invasion of Iraq, instigated under pressure from the Jewish neo-cons, has something to do with the Muslim terrorism problem, too.
On the Bush is a coward issue, I just want to say that I went to Vietnam. I think it is sad how few others did. But, in the Senate, for example, you can see how much better men the veterans are -- McCain, Hegel, Roberts, etc. -- than the draft dodgers. I don't really count John Kerry as a veteran, since he turned on his Vietnam veteran colleagues when he returned to the US.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
The report comes as the Pentagon focuses on China's steady military modernization as a driving force in long-range U.S. defense strategy and overseas basing, American military officials and analysts say. It generated intense debate within the Bush administration, with the State Department pushing for a benign depiction of China's intentions, while the Pentagon sought to emphasize a potentially insidious threat, defense officials said.Thus, it appears that the US is adopting a policy of containment toward China much like that proposed by George Kennan after World War II toward the Soviet Union. India is one of the primary countries that can "contain" China. Interesting, India's nuclear-armed neighbor and oftentime enemy, Pakistan, is a protoge of China. Pakistan is also George Bush's close ally in the "war" against terrorism. The administration will have to weigh the importance of a potential real war with China, against an existing threat (but not a war between nations) of terrorism.
Meanwhile, the acceptance of India's nuclear status threatens to undermine the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime by encouraging beligerant smaller countries, such as Iran and North Korea, to follow India's example of flaulting the regime, and by encouraging more responsible countries that see themselves on a par with India for world status to develop their own nuclear weapons capability, countries such as Brazil and Japan. The situation may be manageable but only with a finesse that the Bush administration has not shown in any of its foreign policy actions to date. If anything, it means that for securing the US from nuclear threats, diplomacy is out, and military force is in, which we have used so well in Iraq. US troops can look forward to winters in Korea and Iran.
Of course, the Arabs started the wars against Israel, but that probably had something to do with the way Israel was created. In addition, Israel started the use of terrorism in the Middle East while Palestine still belonged to the British. To his credit, Secretary of State General George Marshall opposed the way Israel was being created, which he said was being done by President Truman for domestic US political purposes in response to American Jewish pressure. It may well have been the reason that Truman upset Dewey in the election. However, we have been paying the price ever since. Only recently have we begun paying in significant quantities of blood.
Israel should at least own up to its partial responsibility for the deaths in the US and Europe. Those who committed the atrocities are of course responsible, but they were egged on by the heartless way Israel treated the Palestinians who lived in Palestine. Israel should apologize to the West for the bloody consequences of its callous denial of Palestinian human rights.
Saturday, July 09, 2005
Bush's argument is that as long as terrorists are killing Iraqis in Iraq, they are not killing Americans or Europeans at home. He has certainly accomplished his mission of bringing horrible misery to ordinary Iraqis. But, is his logic valid? Is he winning the war on terrorism? Certainly there has been no terrorist assault to rival 9/11, but would there have been one anyway, even without a war on terrorism. Was 9/11 a one-time thing? We are not talking about armies, or nations at war, we appear to be talking about a few individuals who are fighting for a cause, but not in a united way -- about 20 for 9/11, maybe less than half a dozen in London. Can you fight a war against a few terrorists any more than you can fight a war against an insane sniper who starts shooting people from the top of building?
As John Tierney says in today's New York Times:
... I think that we'd be better off reconsidering our definition of victory in the war on terror. Calling it a war makes it sound like a national fight against a mighty enemy threatening our society.
But right now the terrorists look more like a small group of loosely organized killers who are less like an army than like lightning bolts - scary but rarely fatal. Except that the risk of being struck by lightning is much higher than the risk of being killed by a terrorist.
Wednesday, June 22, 2005
No doubt part of the problem was the John Bolton was largely responsible for this issue within the Administration. It has already turned out since he left that he was responsible for the failure of negotiations over the Nunn-Lugar agreement with Russia, and that work under the agreement is starting to move ahead since he left State. It also appears that his efforts to block ElBaradei from getting another term as head of the IAEA has failed, and that Condi Rice wisely agreed to giving him another term once Bolton was gone. It would appear that Bolton was a major failure in his last job. But Bush has rewarded failure before, e.g., CIA Director Tenet's medal, and Paul Wolfowitz promotion to head of the World Bank.
Friday, June 17, 2005
Interestingly, the Times description of him says that he is an Episcopal minister and former Senator. It does not mention that most recently he was US Ambassador to the United Nations, soon to be replaced by John Bolton, a man best known as an SOB who in the past has not loved his neighbor as himself.
When he was leaving the post of UN Ambassador, Danforth refused to criticize the Bush Administration, but he did say the following:
My view is that it’s best that the U.S. have one foreign policy, not a bunch of independent operators. I do not believe that the Permanent Representative to the United Nations is an independent foreign policy maker or should be some sort of figure running around Washington saying exotic things, or running around New York saying exotic things. I really don’t believe that. I believe we should speak with one voice. And therefore I think that this particular method of operation is right. It’s the way I should function. It’s the way the State Department should function. It’s the way the government should function as a totality. Am I used to this kind of operating? No, I mean when I was in the U.S. Senate, I voted my conscience, my point of view and my position on issues, what I thought. And then when I’d go back to my home state and try my best to explain my position to my constituents. You can’t do that in this position, nobody can. I mean everybody who represents the government here does so as an ambassador. You’re representing a point of view that’s the point of view of the entire government, not just the point of view of an individual member of the United States Senate. So it’s a different kind of role, I think that the role here, I’m repeating myself, I think that the role here is not one for somebody who is an independent operator and shouldn’t be that way. And so that’s just the way it is.Spoken like a true public servant, unlike John Bolton, who frequently made a point of letting the world know that he disagreed with his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell. But if you read between the lines, it looks like he did not feel that he was voting his conscience at the UN under George Bush's orders. Danforth had too much moral character to represent this Administration.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
The article brings out McCain's strong support for the war in Iraq and the troops fighting it, but does he also support our torturing our prisoners of war after he was tortured as a prisoner of war in Vietnam? If he does, it seems perverted -- that he wants revenge for what he suffered in Vietnam. That view seems to go against everything else that he has done vis-a-vis Vietnam, working to restore diplomatic relations, find remains of MIAs, etc. So, does he believe torture is just an inescapable part of human nature, accepted in both Vietnam and Iraq? I'd like to know. If he had to live up the Military Code of Conduct as a prisoner in Vietnam, why shouldn't both Vietnam and the US live up to their obligations under the Geneva Convention?
Which leads me to why I'm writing this. I believe that any American acceptance of torture is bad. I think that torture is inevitable, that at least a few of the people we send to fight our enemies will come to hate our enemies and be inclined to torture them if given the opportunity, which is why it is so important that our leadership condemn torture and punish it severely when it occurs. Anything less means that we really condone it. So far, Bush, Rumsfeld and McCain condone it. However, there is a surprising, increasing outcry from Democrats and Republicans to close Guantanamo. Cheney has not gotten the message, which says something awful about his moral character. These are the men who should be setting the standards for our soldiers. It's understandable that some soldiers might have the urge to torture, especially if one of their friends was just killed or wounded, but the political leaders -- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, McCain --- should set the moral tone.
Friday, June 03, 2005
Can Americans compete with Chinese and Indian workers? Of course, but they will have to work 20 hours a day (or 35 hours a day according to Friedman), and they will have to live many people in one room, instead of a few people in a whole house. Maybe the Europeans recognize this and are rebelling. While in America, the government is controlled by those who will gain from the changes, those who own the capital that benefits from cheap labor overseas. For a few in America (and in Europe) this will be the greatest change ever. They will live even more like Asian satraps than they do now.
Maybe European voters are smarter than American voters when it comes to their financial well being. Americans have not been quick to destroy Social Security, despite Bush's plea that they do so. Maybe they don't understand that the globalization of the world labor markets threatens their entire livelihood, not just their retirement.
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The earlier letter from a number of diplomats opposing Bolton is here. Most of the signatories go way back. Most of the ones that I knew personally, I met while I was working on the Brazil desk, which was I think only my third assignment in the Foreign Service, under the Carter Administration. Nevertheless, more power to them!
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
Cheney was a coward and dodged the draft during Vietnam. During 9/11 he went underground and stayed there. Let's hope he never really has to try to lead the country.
Monday, April 18, 2005
I don't doubt that Bolton has some bad personal traits, which he evidenced in his dealings with some State/INR staffers during his more recent stint as Under Secretary of State, but more importantly are his political and philosophical views on foreign policy. In his earlier job as State Assistant Secretary for International Organizations (the UN) and more recently as Under Secretary, he has show his comtempt for diplomacy and working internationally. He, like many of his neo-con allies, believes that the US should just use its raw power internationally, as we did in Iraq. Diplomacy is for wimps (apparently in personal behavior as well as in international dealings).
The text of the letter is:
I'm writing to urge you to consider blocking in committee the nomination of John Bolton as ambassador to the UN.
In the late summer of 1994, I worked as the subcontracted leader of a US AID project in Kyrgyzstan officially awarded to a HUB primary contractor. My own employer was Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly, and I reported directly to Republican leader Charlie Black.
After months of incompetence, poor contract performance, inadequate in-country funding, and a general lack of interest or support in our work from the prime contractor, I was forced to make US AID officials aware of the prime contractor's poor performance.
I flew from Kyrgyzstan to Moscow to meet with other Black Manafort employees who were leading or subcontracted to other US AID projects. While there, I met with US AID officials and expressed my concerns about the project -- chief among them, the prime contractor's inability to keep enough cash in country to allow us to pay bills, which directly resulted in armed threats by Kyrgyz contractors to me and my staff.
Within hours of sending a letter to US AID officials outlining my concerns, I met John Bolton, whom the prime contractor hired as legal counsel to represent them to US AID. And, so, within hours of dispatching that letter, my hell began.
Mr. Bolton proceeded to chase me through the halls of a Russian hotel -- throwing things at me, shoving threatening letters under my door and, generally, behaving like a madman. For nearly two weeks, while I awaited fresh direction from my company and from US AID, John Bolton hounded me in such an appalling way that I eventually retreated to my hotel room and stayed there. Mr. Bolton, of course, then routinely visited me there to pound on the door and shout threats.
When US AID asked me to return to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in advance of assuming leadership of a project in Kazakstan, I returned to my project to find that John Bolton had proceeded me by two days. Why? To meet with every other AID team leader as well as US foreign-service officials in Bishkek, claiming that I was under investigation for misuse of funds and likely was facing jail time. As US AID can confirm, nothing was further from the truth.
He indicated to key employees of or contractors to State that, based on his discussions with investigatory officials, I was headed for federal prison and, if they refused to cooperate with either him or the prime contractor's replacement team leader, they, too, would find themselves the subjects of federal investigation. As a further aside, he made unconscionable comments about my weight, my wardrobe and, with a couple of team leaders, my sexuality, hinting that I was a lesbian (for the record, I'm not).
When I resurfaced in Kyrgyzstan, I learned that he had done such a convincing job of smearing me that it took me weeks -- with the direct intervention of US AID officials -- to limit the damage. In fact, it was only US AID's appoinment of me as a project leader in Almaty, Kazakstan that largely put paid to the rumors Mr. Bolton maliciously circulated.
As a maligned whistleblower, I've learned firsthand the lengths Mr. Bolton will go to accomplish any goal he sets for himself. Truth flew out the window. Decency flew out the window. In his bid to smear me and promote the interests of his client, he went straight for the low road and stayed there.
John Bolton put me through hell -- and he did everything he could to intimidate, malign and threaten not just me, but anybody unwilling to go along with his version of events. His behavior back in 1994 wasn't just unforgivable, it was pathological.
I cannot believe that this is a man being seriously considered for any diplomatic position, let alone such a critical posting to the UN. Others you may call before your committee will be able to speak better to his stated dislike for and objection to stated UN goals. I write you to speak about the very character of the man.
It took me years to get over Mr. Bolton's actions in that Moscow hotel in 1994, his intensely personal attacks and his shocking attempts to malign my character. I urge you from the bottom of my heart to use your ability to block Mr. Bolton's nomination in committee.
Dallas, TX 75208
Friday, April 15, 2005
The other principle is that countries will usually only agree to things that are in their self interest. They are not going to agree to something that will disadvantage them militarily vis-a-vis neighboring countries, for example. So, if you want Iran to give up something that it believes is in its self interest, uranium enrichment for example, you have to make Iran see that it is in its self interest to do so. For example, if Iran were assured that it would be guaranteed a supply of fuel for nuclear reactors at a lower price than it could produce that fuel itself. But, at the same time, it would have to be sure that neighboring countries, Israel for example, could not threaten it will nuclear destruction. It might also mean that current nuclear countries, other than Israel, would have to renounce nuclear weapons, the US for example.
Sokolski glosses over this major problem of nations not agreeing to things not in their self interest, when he says:
The first view was reflected in the original intent for the negotiations announced by Fred Aiken, the Irish foreign minister in 1959, when he laid down the first resolution for a nonproliferation treaty. He basically was concerned that the spread of nuclear weapons to additional states would make disarmament less likely, because it would make war, either inadvertent or deliberate, more likely.
Now that set of concerns produced the first three articles of the treaty, and they basically said, "If you have nuclear weapons, don't give them to anyone else; if you don't have any, don't try to get any; and everyone should submit themselves to inspections to make sure there's no diversion." That was, I think, a very sound view. What happened in the mid-1960s was [the result of] impatience in getting the superpowers to agree with this treaty, compounded by a new theory of what the worry of the world was, which was that there would be an arms race between superpowers that would start the next war, and there would be what they call vertical proliferation, and that had to be blocked. And that what we really needed to do was to get countries to make sure that if they had nuclear weapons, they didn't get many more of them, and that they didn't try to proliferate and make them better and quicker, or more accurate. And that what we really needed to do then was to make sure that there were only finite deterrent forces, if there were nuclear weapons. Now, that theory gave rise to things like mutual assured destruction and the like. (Italics supplied)
You can't have a treaty unless people (nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear states) agree to it. My problem with Sokolski and other DOD types was that they always wanted one-sided, restrictive agreements that no one else would accept. Their favored agreements were dead on arrival.
If they rewrite the NPT in the same manner, the NPT will cease to be an agreement which almost every country in the world has accepted. Granted there are important exceptions -- North Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel -- but by refusing to accept the NPT they brand themselves as outlaw regimes. The problem is not only what to do about countries like Iran that adhere to the NPT but might withdraw at some future time, but what we do about those countries like North Korea and India, who simply thumb their noses at the treaty.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
The team's role in Yushchenko's recovery from an apparently deliberate case of massive dioxin poisoning has been undisclosed until now, largely because U.S. officials and the doctors did not want to appear to interfere in the political drama of the Ukrainian elections. Yushchenko, whose once-youthful face was mysteriously transformed into a blotch of lesions after the poisoning, visited the private Rudolfinerhaus clinic between the election that was declared fraudulent and the election that resulted in his presidential victory. Yushchenko's election was a bitter blow to the Russian government, and even today U.S. officials are reluctant to officially say they assisted the medical team. Gregory Saathoff, the lead doctor and executive director of U-Va.'s Critical Incident Analysis Group in Charlottesville, would confirm only broad details after saying he received permission from the family to discuss it "on a very limited basis." He said the U.S. government was not involved in his team's work. "It was clear that the U.S. government had no interest or ability in being involved in this situation because this would be interference in the election of another country," Saathoff said. "The U.S. government was notably hands-off." But a senior U.S. official directly involved in the operation said it began with a request from Yushchenko's family for assistance, via an official in the Pentagon, and the State Department provided logistical support during the doctors' overseas trip. He said Saathoff kept in touch with the State Department in Washington, at one point informing officials they suspected they were being followed -- by police or even Russian intelligence agents -- and would cut their stay in Vienna short by a day.In Georgia, the new president Saakashvilli studied, lived and worked in the United States for years before returning to Georgia to become president.
The NYT today says the revolution in Kyrgyzstan did not move Kyrgyzstan any closer to the Western orbit. It was probably just a coup in which one corrupt group took power from the corrupt group already in office.
Ironically so far the revolutions have taken place in the former Soviet republics that are the most democratic (relatively) compared to the other former Soviet republics. What is the lesson from this? For current despots to crack down harder, maybe including Putin?
What does Russia think about this? As usual, the NYT is on top of this, and says Russia might not be too happy about what's going on in its neighborhood and might be preparing to block similar activities in mother Russia.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
In essence Bush's plan would bar any country from making nuclear fuel that doesn't already make it, i.e., major world powers, although it might also exempt the backdoor nuclear powers, Israel, India and Pakistan, who are not signatories of the NPT. The article quoted the President's statement on March 7 regarding the NPT Review Conference:
We cannot allow rogue states that violate their commitments and defy the international community to undermine the NPT's fundamental role in strengthening international security. We must therefore close the loopholes that allow states to produce nuclear materials that can be used to build bombs under the cover of civilian nuclear programs.The question is whether NPT signatories will accept this change in interpretation. I doubt it. As is so often said, nations do what is in their self interest. The NPT looks the way it does, because it had to deal with a lot of trade-offs to gain acceptance, and it has gained wide acceptance -- 189 signers. Bush says he is concerned about countries that might legally develop low enrichment fuel cycles for power reactors under the treaty, and then withdraw from the treaty and use their facilities to produce high enriched uranium for bombs, as the US claims North Korea has. One problem is that we don't have good intelligence that North Korea has done this. The person who probably knows the most about it is A.Q. Khan in Pakistan, and the Pakistani government will not let us talk to him. We know he sold them some erichment equipment, but what exactly did North Korea do with it. It doesn't help that we apparently lied to a number of countries, claiming that North Korea sold uranium to Libya, when in fact it was Pakistan that sold the uranium to them.
Bush and company say the NPT is useless as it is, because it won't permanently prevent bad countries from acquiring nuclear weapons. But that is probably too much to ask of it. It currently serves to slow down bad countries, forces them to open up their activities to IAEA inspectors, and in the worse case, it provides a trip-wire when a country like North Korea withdraws from the treaty, thereby saying publicly that it intends to develop nuclear weapons.
What the non-proliferation regime really needs, rather than a re-interpretation of the NPT is a way to deal with the new nuclear powers that are not members of the NPT: Israel, India and Pakistan. If Iran sees that Israel has the bomb and nobody cares, why shouldn't Iran decide that it should have the bomb, too. We need to show that we care about what happened within the non-proliferation regime that allowed these countries to develop nuclear weapons. For the US to sell F-16s to Pakistan without demanding anything in return on the nuclear side sets a very bad example. Pakistan may be helping on the terrorism issue, but in the long term, the nuclear issue may be more important, especially if terrorists get nuclear weapons.
Bush implicitly says the Pakistanis are moral giants when it comes to nuclear activities and deserve F-16s, while the Iranians are despicable devils. President Bush claims to love some Iranians, apparently the faceless men and women in the street who are believed to be struggling to overthrow the government of the mullahs. However, Bush hates the Iranians he knows, the men running the Iranian government. Nevertheless, he wants them to trust him to supply them with nuclear fuel, to provide the energy to run the country of Iran, its factories, its homes, its military facilities, one of whose missions is no doubt to repulse an American invasion like the one against their next door neighbor, Iraq. Bush's reply to this argument is that Iran doesn't need nuclear power, because it has all that oil. But currently, although Bush says "trust me" to sell Iran nuclear fuel for its reactors, if I were Iran, I wouldn't trust him. It's lack of such mutual trust that makes the NPT look like it does. Smaller countries like Iran also follow President Reagan's dictum: "Trust but verify."
We've already been down this road with Brazil, 30 years ago, when we sold Brazil and Westinghouse reactor, and then refused to sell the fuel for it. Brazil ended up buying, or trying its best to buy, a complete uranium fuel cycle from Germany.