Monday, January 31, 2005

Jew Says Holocaust Over Used

An Op-Ed in the New York Times by Ami Eden, the national editor of The Forward, a Jewish publication, strikes the correct tone regarding the Holocaust. He recognizes that the Holocaust has been over marketed, and is therefore losing its moral value. He says:

"Jewish organizations and advocates of Israel fail to grasp that they are no longer viewed as the voice of the disenfranchised. Rather, they are seen as a global Goliath, close to the seats of power and capable of influencing policies and damaging reputations. As such, their efforts to raise the alarm increasingly appear as bullying."

He says later:

"One protester, Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, called on the [British] prince [Harry] to make amends by traveling to Poland for the Auschwitz ceremony.

"This is exactly the wrong approach. By playing the Holocaust card against Harry, Jewish critics deflected attention from how Harry had insulted the memory of the millions of Britons who suffered during World War II; they also risked squandering a diminishing supply of hard-won moral capital better spent in the fight against terrorism and the rise in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism."

Well said! I think he strikes the right chord. I hope other Jews, who are so quick to condemn Gentiles as anti-Semites for comments that are political or moral, or simply thoughtless, but that are not about Jews as a religion or a race, will take his advice to heart.

His comment about Jews as bullies is particularly important to me because I am concerned that many people within, or close to, the Bush administration pushing for war in Iraq were Jewish: Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, and many other neo-cons. It's arguable that Iraq is a Jewish war, not an American war. Bush gave in to Jewish pressure; ordinary Americans supported it once it started, but Jews were responsible for starting it.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

More Jewish Influence on US Iraq Policy

The New York Times today has an article on parallels between Iraq and Vietnam. It says that shortly after the US invasion of Iraq, talk of comparing Iraq and Vietnam was forbidden. Now, however, the article says, "Nearly two years after the American invasion of Iraq, such comparisons are no longer dismissed in mainstream political discourse as facile and flawed, but are instead bubbling to the top."

Then the article goes on to quote Tony Lake, giving the liberal, Democratic view, and Michael Rubin, giving the conservative view. The article says, "Michael Rubin, a conservative scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who recently returned from Iraq, published an op-ed piece in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Friday in which he noted that Arab television in Baghdad routinely showed archival footage of American diplomats fleeing Saigon, as if to suggest that whatever Mr. Bush may say about America's staying power, 'it is weak.'"

Why is the AEI writing about American policy in an Israeli newspaper? Israel is not America's 51st state. It's another country, which has a very strong interest in the US killing Muslims in Iraq and elsewhere. I think that America must do what is best for its own self-interest, not what is best for Israel. We should not confuse the two. And policy advisers should not confuse the two, or if they want to do so, they should declare themselves agents of a foreign government.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Jews Complain Allies Allowed Holocaust

According to the report in the New York Times about the Holocaust memorial service in Poland on Thursday, Israeli President Katsav said that the allies "did not do enough" to prevent the killing of Jews in World War II.

Unfortunately, this strikes me as ungrateful. I saw the criticism of FDR at the Holocaust Museum in Washington. I support FDR's and Churchill's decision to go slowly on the invasion of Europe to preserve the lives of Allied troops. I can understand Jewish frustration that Jews died while the Allies were organizing D-Day, but the alternative would have been many more deaths of Allied soldiers in the invasion. Jews must take some responsibility for their own fate. One of the Holocaust vignettes I saw on TV was of a Jew who was a barber at Auschwitz, shaving German officers. He said he could have killed one of them, but then he would certainly have been killed himself. He decided it was more important for him to live; why shouldn't allied troops be allowed to live as well?

The allies also abandoned Eastern Europe to live behind the Iron Curtain for fifty years after World War II. This was mainly because the Allies really needed the Soviet Union in the alliance. The Soviets lost millions of people in the war, but the war in the East sapped German strength, making victory in the West possible, or at least easier. It was another trade off to save the lives of Allied troops. The Jews were not the only ones who suffered; many millions of East Europeans were sentenced to live most of their lives under Communism.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Civil Service on Its Way Out

The Washington Post reports that the civil service system is on its way out at the Department of Homeland Security. Civil service was introduced a hundred or so years ago because the old patronage system resulted in so many abuses. But Bush wants patronage. No more independent thinking! If you don't support the Bush political view, you're fired, or certainly not promoted.

Bush at first fought the law creating the Homeland Security Department because it included civil service protections for its employees. Now it's clear why he opposed it so strongly. It was his chance to get political patronage re-introduced widely into the federal government. Already there are thousands of "Schedule C," senior, policy-related jobs that are exempt from the civil service. That's not enough for Bush. If there were more Democrats in the House and Senate, there might be some chance of resisting his onslaught, but probably not now.

The article says the system at Homeland Security will become the model for all government agencies. One question: Why would one of the worst managed bureaucracies in the government become the model for the other, better functioning bureaucracies?

Presumably, the important thing to Bush is loyalty, not results. Just look at Iraq. Is that a successful war? But to the Bushies, it's the most successful, wonderful war ever. Forget the fact that Iraqis are leaving in droves because of the lack of security, electricity, water, gasoline, etc. It took George Bush to make Saddam Hussein look like a good government leader.

Doug Feith to Leave Pentagon

Douglas Feith, Defense Under Secretary for Policy, announced that he plans to resign this summer, according to the Washington Post. Hooray!

He certainly bears a heavy responsibility for the failure of the war in Iraq. He and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz worked together closely on the war. Now if Wolfowitz would just leave, along with Rumsfeld. I particularly want Feith and Wolfowitz to leave because they are Jewish and, given the way they ran the war, I believe they ran it more for Israel's interest than for America's. They are part of the mostly Jewish "neo-conservatives," including Richard Perle, who favored war with Iraq. It's not surprising that there have been indications of disloyalty within the Pentagon, where some officials were sharing classified data with the Israelis without authorization. General Tommy Franks called Feith, "the stupidest guy on the face of the Earth."

The Op-Ed page in today's New York Times illustrates the influence of Jews in the world today. One column, by Aharon Appelfeld, deals with the Holocaust; it was originally written in Jerusalem in Hebrew, and quotes "a doctor ... who sailed to Israel with us." It was an evocative peace that brings out that Jews believe God abandoned them; according to Appelfeld's doctor friend, "We didn't see God when we expected him, so we have no choice but to do what he was supposed to do: we will protect the weak, we will love, we will comfort. From now on, the responsibility is all ours."

The other column, "Read My Ears" datelined Berlin, is by Tom Friedman, also a Jew, who writes about the deep disdain Europeans feel for President Bush. Friedman says, "Mr. Bush is more widely and deeply disliked in Europe than any U.S. president in history. Some people here must have a good thing to say about him, but I haven't met them yet. In such an environment, the only thing that Mr. Bush could do to change people's minds about him would be to travel across Europe and not say a single word - but just listen."

On the one hand, America's stature was destroyed in Europe by Jews, including Doug Feith, and sympathetic evangelical Christians who see Israel as some sort of sign of Armageddon. On the other we have a Jew, Tom Friedman, telling us that we need to listen to Europe's complaints. I wish Friedman had more influence with this administration than his neo-conservative Jewish colleagues.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Not Everyone Suffered Equally in Holocaust

The New York Times reports on a meeting in London of former residents of the Lodz (pronounced wooj), Poland, Jewish ghetto to look at several thousand photos of ghetto life. The article says the photos are disconcerting because they show "scenes of the seemingly contented ghetto 'elite,' Jews who worked as ghetto supervisors and police officers or held coveted jobs." The existence of this elite, Jews who ruled other Jews under German supervision, was no secret and is depicted in the movie The Pianist, for example. According to something I found on the Internet, they were called "kapos," although that sounds to me more like a Mafia term.

For me, this goes along with my previous posting pointing out that there is a lot of "marketing" of the Holocaust, and that therefore this advertising does not give a totally accurate picture of what happened. There is no doubt that it was terrible, but there are questions about whether some of the much vaunted survivors survived because they cooperated with the Germans in oppressing (or worse) their Jewish compatriots.

The article continues:

"The photographs of the elite or the 'protected class,' as the survivors here called it, were the most striking in their departure from the stark pictures typically associated with the Holocaust. They featured smiling children in neatly pressed clothes, sitting around a table laden with food and drink for a party. A plump boy in a mini-policeman's uniform, marching with his young friends around the street. Revelers gathered on top of a horse-drawn carriage."

"For Mrs. Aronson, the photographs touch a more personal chord. She was indirectly a part of the elite, she said. Her father, who she said died after trying to save the children of her small town, knew Mr. Rumkowski and, because of that, Mrs. Aronson, her mother and brother were given good jobs. Hers was at an orphanage and later at a confectionary factory. She was in Lodz until the war ended.

"'To say that we were privileged and that we knew we were going to survive is a load of rubbish,' she said, adding that she, too, went hungry and feared for her life. 'We had the same rations as everyone else. My brother got from the Germans a bit of food now and again. Food was the most important thing to survive.'"

Bush Needs Better Manners

The current issue of Foreign Affairs complains about one of Bush's failings that is seldom mentioned, but is very serious. The article by John Lewis Gaddis discusses US military interventions over the last decade or so and the problems that have made the Iraq intervention so much worse than the others. He states:

"Iraq has been the exception, not the rule, and there are lessons to be learned from the anomaly.

"One is the need for better manners."

How could Bush I be such a gentleman, and Bush II be so unpolished and uncouth? I don't know, but he is an embarrassment to the US, even if a majority of the voters don't realize it.

Israeli Banks Stiff Holocaust Heirs

What should be a shameful scandal involving Israel's poor treatment of Holocaust survivors and heirs of victims was at least reported on the front page of the New York Times, although the article concludes by saying, "This is only a committee report, a revelation of the scope of the problem. This is not the Knesset passing a law forcing the banks and the custodian to return the money. For that, there has to be political will."

According to the article, after Jews have demanded that European banks, especially in Switzerland and Austria, pay out assets held on behalf of Jews who were victims of the Holocaust, Jewish banks and even the Government of Israel, have failed to make equivalent payments for the moneys they hold. The article says there are about 9,000 names on the list of people owed, and 6,000 of them are listed as victims of the Holocaust. By one accounting, the Israeli Government owes $133 million, and the banks owe $73 million.

I am concerned that all the Jewish furor about the Holocaust is a marketing ploy. It's partly about the money. People like former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and lawyers representing the victims have been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for their role in pressuring banks and governments in Europe to pay up, while the average Holocaust survivor or heir has gotten only a few thousand dollars. But more than the money, it has been a campaign to make people feel sorry for Jews, to give them and the State of Israel a break by not criticizing them too strongly for things like killing Palestinian children, or making millions on Wall Street through shady deals involving Enron, WorldCom, etc. I think that once again those poor Jews who actually were sent to Auschwitz and other death camps are the victims of the "marketing" of the Holocaust. They won't get much, but powerful Israeli politicians and rich Wall Street and Hollywood Jews, most of whom escaped the Holocaust, will get plenty of benefit.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Prince Harry Should Visit British World War II Graves

Wearing a Nazi arm band won Britain's Prince Harry criticism from Jewish groups the world over, but why should he put Jewish deaths in Germany and Poland ahead of British ones closer to home? I agree with this letter to the editor in the Toronto Star that if he is going to do some kind of penace, he should visit British cemeteries first.

Secondly, he should consider what the proper response is in a Christian nation. Jews reject the New Testament with Jesus' teachings about forgiveness and loving your enemies. George Bush has been talking lately about how much he has learned from the closeness between Japan and the US, despite World War II. In fact, had George been paying closer attention, he would have seen that the US and its allies, after punishing war criminals, almost immediately embarked on a path of forgiveness in Germany and Japan. Christian principles aside, the West saw that it's lack of forgiveness after World War I led inexorably to World War II.

Along this line, it was interesting that one commentator after Bush's inaugural speech today said that he had tried to evoke Woodrow Wilson (as well as Truman, Reagan, and others). Wilson virtually killed himself campaigning unsuccessfully for the League of Nations after World War I. The failure of the League of Nations, due in large part to the failure of the US to participate, was an important contributing factor toward World War II. Bush and his Administration seem to hate the League of Nations' successor, the United Nations, just as Wilson's opponents hated the League. It appears to me that Bush has rejected the lessons learned from both World War I (when we got it wrong) and World War II (when we got it right).

Hopefully Prince Harry will be a better student of world affairs than George W. Bush.

The National Guard in War

One of the reasons that I dislike George W. Bush is that he escaped service in Vietnam by joining the National Guard in Texas. Sure, lots of other people did this, but I don't approve of anybody escaping military service while others are being sent off to die. That's why I went when my draft number came up (although not before it did).

Now, George says that nobody can escape service as he did back then. The National Guard is bearing a heavy burden of the fighting in Iraq. How hypocritical of him to send the National Guard to fight because he is afraid to increase the numbers of troops in the regular Army and other services! The National Guard was his hiding place, but he has made sure that it is no longer a hiding place for anyone else.

Another gripe is that Bush was trained as a fighter pilot. I have read that today it costs about a million dollars to train someone as a fighter pilot; presumably it cost the equivalent back when he trained. After the US invested all this money in him, he said, "I'm going to Harvard Business School. I'm outta here. A million taxpayer dollars? I spit on them. The government is here to serve me!" And so it is. It's here to serve George and all his rich friends, who just love spending on themselves all the tax money from those stupid, hard-working regular folks who ignorantly pay their fair share of taxes, and who are now about to lose their Social Security.

Do We Need a War on Terrorism?

The fact that today's inaugural ceremonies were carried off without any terrorist incident raises the question whether a "war on terrorism" is justified. The original airplane highjackings and the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could probably have been avoided if there had been regulations that were strictly enforced barring the carrying of box cutters on to planes. It is very possible that our reaction to those attacks was overkill. In any case, our response in Afghanistan was certainly more appropriate than our response in Iraq.

Bush's inaugural address today tried to evoke the same response that our long rivalry with the Soviet Union evoked during the Cold War, especially as described by President Reagan. Bush said, "We have seen our vulnerability - and we have seen its deepest source. For as long as whole regions of the world simmer in resentment and tyranny - prone to ideologies that feed hatred and excuse murder - violence will gather, and multiply in destructive power, and cross the most defended borders, and raise a mortal threat." Scary words, but is there a "mortal threat"? During the Cold War the Soviet Union had millions of armed soldiers stationed across the border from Western Europe and many nuclear armed ICBMs targeted on the US. The terrorists have nothing like this. They can disrupt life in Iraq, where much of the population sympathizes with them, but they have been unable to do so in the US since 9/11. It's possible that Bush's national security team was just asleep at the switch on 9/11 and let a fairly amateurish attempt succeed because our guard was down.

If that's the case, then Bush's speech was much sound and fury, signifying nothing. We do need protection, but not at the cost that Bush demands. America wants the perfect safety that used to be guaranteed by our oceans' borders and the homogeneity of our population. Today, that guarantee is more difficult because we can rely on neither of those two old defenses. The war on terrorism and the Department of Homeland Security do little or nothing to make up that gap and add to our security. That's why it turns out to be relatively unimportant that the Department of Homeland Security is hopelessly incompetent.

Foreign Policy of Exporting Democracy is Focus of Bush's Inaugural

President Bush, who avoided foreign policy like the plague four years ago, made foreign policy the keynote of his inaugural speech today. He said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world." Later he added, "When you stand for your liberty, we will stand with you." It's somewhat ironic that Bush focused so strongly on human rights, which was first made a priority foreign policy issue by Democratic President Jimmy Carter.

At whom is this attack on undemocratic regimes directed? Iran? China? Russia? Zimbabwe? Burma? Belarus? He didn't say. But given the current state of the world, it would appear to be directed mainly at Arab and Muslim governments. What will we do to help democratic movements? Forcibly overthrow dictatorial governments, as we did in the second Iraq war? Simply say encouraging things to democratic activists, as we did to the Kurds and Shiites after the first Iraq war, before they were brutally put down by Saddam? On one hand, Bush said this is "the quiet work of intelligence and diplomacy." On the other hand, he said, "This is not primarily the task of arms, though we will defend ourselves and our friends by force of arms when necessary." When are arms necessary? We don't know. Maybe Bush, Rice and Rumsfeld know, although they are not saying. Cheney said just before the inaugural, "You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list."

Tyrants of the world, be afraid, be very afraid!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Yorker on War with Iran

An article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker reports that the Bush Administration is planning for a war with Iran, or at least attacks on some things within Iran. In preparation for that attack, the Pentagon has taken over clandestine intelligence activities that used to belong to the CIA. In return for Pakistan's help in infiltrating Iran, the US has agreed to let A.Q. Khan off the hook for his years of nuclear proliferation activities with Iran, North Korea, Libya, and perhaps other bad guys that we don't know about.

Kevin Drum Of Political Animal doesn't think most of these are worth worrying about, except for the lack of Congressional oversight, but I think he is too sanguine. The bargain struck with Pakistan raises the question whether the US is really serious about nuclear non-proliferation. As Hersh says:

"It's a deal -- a trade-off," the former high-level intelligence official explained. "'Tell us what you know about Iran and we will let your A. Q. Khan guys go.' It's the neoconservatives' version of short-term gain at long-term cost. They want to prove that Bush is the anti-terrorism guy who can handle Iran and the nuclear threat, against the long-term goal of eliminating the black market for nuclear proliferation."

The agreement comes at a time when Musharraf, according to a former high-level Pakistani diplomat, has authorized the expansion of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons arsenal. "Pakistan still needs parts and supplies, and needs to buy them in the clandestine market," the former diplomat said. "The U.S. has done nothing to stop it."

If the US has agreed to look the other way while Pakistan improves its nuclear arsenal, it's a bad signal to the rest of the world (Brazil, India, North Korea) and to the IAEA, which is charged with enforcing the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), about our seriousness in fighting proliferation. While we accuse the IAEA of being soft on proliferation, perhaps the US is the real softy.

An interesting note by Hersh is that "many Western intelligence agencies, including those of the United States, believe that Iran is at least three to five years away from a capability to independently produce nuclear warheads -- although its work on a missile-delivery system is far more advanced." The mention of missile delivery systems links to the sanctions on China, which may have been based on intelligence gleaned by US special ops infiltration into Iran.

I am particularly unhappy with Hersh's claim that "there has also been close, and largely unacknowledged, coöperation with Israel. The government consultant with ties to the Pentagon said that the Defense Department civilians, under the leadership of Douglas Feith, have been working with Israeli planners and consultants to develop and refine potential nuclear, chemical-weapons, and missile targets inside Iran." I have long believed that America's invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11, was more a favor to Israel and American Jews than something required by America's national security. So, Israel was wrong about Iraq, but now it wants us to attack Iran, because Iran poses a potential nuclear threat to Israel, as it incorrectly thought Iraq did.

The claim that the US plans to overthrow the current leadership of Iran ("regime change") helps explain to me why we are not more concerned about Iran's role in Iraq in favoring the Shiites in the upcoming Iraqi election. We're not worried about what Iranian clerics might do in the future to control Iraq, because we plan to depose the Muslim leaders of Iran. I don't think that will work, but if we did succeed in Iran (unlike Iraq), we might face a situation where Iran would move to secular leadership, but Iraq would have democratically installed a religious leadership.

The above are serious national security issues, but Kevin Drum is right that replacing the CIA with the Defense Department for covert operations in order to avoid Congressional oversight is a disturbing and important development.

US Imposes Missile Sanctions on China

The New York Times noted that the Administration has quietly imposed sanctions on China for missile related dealings with Iran. The article contains no information about the technology or the missiles involved, but the transfers appear to deal with larger missiles that would be controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) that I worked on while at the State Department.

The article surmises that the penalties may have been kept quiet to avoid embarrassing China, whose help we need to rein in the North Korean nuclear program. It also raises the question whether the intelligence about the transfers was uncovered by the clandestine raids into Iran conducted by Pentagon and reported by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.

Rice Is New Secretary of State

Just for the record, Rice was confirmed, as expected as Secretary of State. It's interesting that Reuters issued a report about the time of her confirmation saying that the rest of the world, with a few exceptions, is worried about what four more years of Bush will mean. It says the world fears that "the most powerful man on the planet may do more harm than good." Rice's confirmation as Secretary will not do anything to ease those fears. Keeping Colin Powell around would have.

I don't think Bush understands much about foreign affairs, but was forced into the arena by 9/11. Osama bin Laden probably didn't realize what a terrible thing he was inflicting on the whole world, not just the US, by drawing Bush into world affairs. Unfortunately the attack brought out Bush's nasty side, which otherwise might have been used only against his domestic opponents. It's surprising that "Christians" embrace such hatred.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Prince Harry and the Holocaust

There is no doubt that Prince Harry's wearing a Nazi uniform to a costume party was in bad taste, but it was also not the end of the world. What I find offensive is that mainly the Jews are objecting to it because of the Holocaust. Granted, six million Jews died in the Holocaust, but what about World War II? Almost 400,000 Brits died in World War II; what are they, chopped liver? Eleven million Soviets died in World War II, but I haven't seen anything reporting that Putin called Blair to object to Prince Harry's costume.

There were many decent German soldiers who wore the swastika, ranging from Army privates who had no choice, to decent generals like Rommel, some of whom plotted to kill Hitler. I find it offensive that the Jews who were victims of race hatred in Germany 6o years ago, have raised race hatred to a new level today.

I was never very interested in the Holocaust until I was assigned to Warsaw, Poland, during the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. It was all Holocaust, all the time. The Jews weren't the only ones who suffered during World War II, even in Auschwitz. Many Christian Poles died in Auschwitz, too.

You can even see the change in attitude here in America. I think one reason that we belatedly built a World War II memorial on the national mall in Washington, is that WW II veterans felt until recently that their work in winning the war would be all the memorial they would ever need. But I got a hint of the problem when I visited the Holocaust Memorial before I went to Poland, before it was even open to the public. Going through, I noticed several criticisms of President Roosevelt for being to slow or reluctant to act against the Holocaust. Roosevelt properly, was more concerned about the American troops fighting against the Nazis than about foreigners who were imprisoned in a foreign land. An earlier assault on the European continent might have cost many more thousands of American lives. But Jews make Roosevelt's concerns about American lives a bad thing. Sacrifices by American Christians in World War II count for nothing to Jews, who are only concerned about Jewish lives. So, Americans had to build a monument to help offset the Jewish attacks on WW II veterans. It's hard to find statistics, but I doubt that a very high percentage of Jews fought in World War II, compared the number of eligible Christians.

It's about the same today, with the war in Iraq. It turns out that Iraq had no WMD and was not a threat to the US, but it was a threat to Israel. So, who is the main beneficiary of the war in Iraq? Israel. Who is doing most of the fighting there? Anglo Christians. This is partly because some fundamentalist Christians believe that Israel is crucial to the Rapture or endtime, and therefore, they are willing to die for Israel. But I think this is a minority of those who have actually given their lives in Iraq.

The most offensive way to put this is: Bush and company are sending Christian soldiers to die in Iraq for Jew money. Just as in World War II, when many Jews managed to stay behind, or at least out of the front lines, and get rich from the War.

It also irks me that most surviving Jews who were in the Holocaust will get some kind of payment from Germany, from insurance companies, or from some other source. So, all this Jewish consciousness raising publicity about the Holocaust does have a financial payoff for Jews. Meanwhile, the Americans, mostly Christians, who were in the Bataan death march and who worked in Japanese labor camps, under conditions similar to the German labor camps, get nothing.

The US Should Get Out of the Torture Business

Alberto Gonzales' hearing on his confirmation as Attorney General, along with several new reports of the use of torture in Iraq, Guantanamo and Afghanistan, resurrect some of the most despicable episodes in recent US history. Gonzales couldn't remember exactly what he did in the White House on the torture issue, but it's pretty clear from news reports that he said a little torture is okay, especially if the people tortured are Arabs or Muslims.

I don't buy it. I would not confirm Gonzales to be dog catcher. I don't think we should be drawing fine lines of distinction between what kind of torture is okay and what crosses some hazy line of morality.

We should shut down Guantanamo, which in retrospect was created to avoid applying both US and international law protecting prisoners. The prisoners there should be released, returned to their home countries, returned to the country where they were captured, or brought to the US and given treatment in accordance with the Constitution.

We should improve the supervision of prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan and invite international observers to monitor conditions there continually, not just make periodic visits as the Red Cross does now. I want to be proud of America, not ashamed of her, as I am now.

While the conditions at these various prison facilities are clearly the result of decisions made at the very top of our government, those senior officials, such as Bush and Gonzales, have allowed the low level soldiers to take the rap for abuse. They claim to honor our servicemen, when in fact they are defaming them.

End of Search for WMD in Iraq

Just for the record, everybody notes that Washington has given up the search for WMD in Iraq. So, the original reason we invaded Iraq turns out to be invalid. But Bush and his henchmen say that's okay: Saddam was a bad man and needed to be deposed. Aren't there other bad men around the world, probably even worse? What about North Korea's Kim Jong Il? What about the military regime in Burma? What about Zimbabwe? What about the non-stop killing in Africa -- Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan, Somalia, etc.?

If Bush had not come up with his idea of pre-emptive war and snubbed his nose at the rest of the world, it wouldn't be so bad. Before the war, many of the responsible governments of the world thought as we did that Saddam had some kind of WMD. But officially, the UN said let us confirm that he does. If we had waited for them, we would have a lot more friends now. However, Bush replied that the UN inspectors were worthless incompetents and that the US would not wait for them. He was wrong.

Now, what do we do about Iran, which appears actually to be doing what we thought Saddam was doing. And what about North Korea, which may have surpassed Saddam and actually built a nuclear bomb or two?

Where are the men of character in this government? Diogenes would have to look for a long time in Washington to find an honest man.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Zoellick As State Deputy Is Pretty Good News

The good news about the appointment of USTR Bob Zoellick as Deputy Secretary of the State Department is that he is not John Bolton, currently a State undersecretary for arms control. Bolton is a rabid neo-conservative. Zoellick is a good Republican, but not a madman. Pundits were saying that if Bolton moved up to Deputy Secretary, it would be a sign of increasing neo-con influence in Rice's State Department. By that standard, this is good news.

This is probably encouraging in looking toward Condi Rice's tenure at State. Zoellick will be able to work with career foreign service officers, many of whom will have worked with him under Secretary Jim Baker during Bush I's administration.

Even better news is the rumor in this Washington Post report that Undersecretary Bolton may be on his way out. I don't know anything about his rumored replacement, Robert G. Joseph, but I don't think he could be worse than Bolton. Bolton is an ideologue, but even worse, it's arguable that he has badly botched non-proliferation efforts aimed at Iran and North Korea, not to mention Iraq, which turned out not to be a non-proliferation threat.