Wednesday, March 30, 2005

US Wants Changes to Non-Proliferation Regime

The NYT reported on March 15 on President Bush's efforts to modify the current nuclear non-proliferation regime. He would not change the language of the treaty, but would change how it operates. This is either timely or untimely, depending on how the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference goes in May. An NPT Review Conference is held every five years according to the terms of the treaty.

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.

Monday, March 28, 2005

World War II History Keeps Changing

Serge Schmemann misses one major change in attitudes toward World War II in his NYT op-ed on the war's 60th anniversary. He talks about the Baltic states stiffing (Estonia and Lithuania) or meeting (Latvia) Russia, China bashing Japan, Germany's desire to be included, but the only mention of the Holocaust is remembering that the Baltic states and Bulgaria cooperated with Germany in massacring Jews.

Jews have turned against the "greatest generation" that fought for American in World War II because the Allies did not move quickly enough to save Jews in European death camps. I believe that this is why we now have a World War II memorial on the mall. The World War II vets thought they didn't need a memorial because their deeds would be enough to speak to history for them. Now they find that defeating the Germans and the Japanese was not enough. They are condemned for not stopping the Holocaust. So, at least they have their memorial on the mall, but their reputations tarnish by the day under the attack of the Holocaust promoters.

Schmemann missed, or failed to mention, that change in perception toward World War II. Now thanks to endless public promotion, deaths in the Holocaust are perceived as much more important than deaths in combat. Rows of marble tombstones in military cemeteries here and abroad are now less important than images of Auschwitz. Few outside Russia mention that millions more Soviet citizens died in combat or were killed in their homes than the number of Jews who were killed in the Holocaust during the war.

Former Yukos Executive Criticizes Putin

Leonid Nevzlin, an associate of Yukos Oil Company chief Michail Khordorkovsky, spoke out in Israel about the Kremlin campaign against Yukos (NYT, March 21, p. A6). Khordorkovsky, currently in prison in Russia, is one of the mostly Jewish "oligarchs" who ended up with much of Russia's wealth after the privatization that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The article said that Nevzlin fled to Israel nearly two years ago. It added that Israel has ignored an outstanding Interpol request from Russia to extradite Nevzlin. A British judge also rejected Russian extradition of a Yukos accountant and lawyer who fled to London.

According to the article, Nevzlin said there was "an element of anti-Semitism behind the Kremlin's campaign against him and other Yukos executives, some of whom are also Jewish. He joined a number of prominent Russian billionaires who have either fled to or established dual citizenship in Israel, including Vladimir Gusinsky, now a media tycoon."

Tom Friedman Attacks Torture

Tom Friedman criticized the US for its failure to adhere to civilized standards of war in an excellent Op-Ed on March 24. He quotes from Washington's Crossing about how George Washington treated prisoners of war during the Revolutionary War. Friedman says, drawing or quoting from the book:

"Washington ordered that Hessian captives would be treated as human beings with the same rights of humanity for which Americans were striving. The Hessians ... were amazed to be treated with decency and even kindness. At first they could not understand it." The same policy was extended to British prisoners.

In concluding his book, Mr. Fischer wrote lines that President Bush would do well to ponder: George Washington and the American soldiers and civilians fighting alongside him in the New Jersey campaign not only reversed the momentum of a bitter war, but they did so by choosing "a policy of humanity that aligned the conduct of the war with the values of the Revolution. They set a high example, and we have much to learn from them."

Iran Takes Lead in Axis of Evil

President Bush named three countries to the "Axis of Evil": Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. We invaded Iraq, which turned out not to have WMD. Now North Korea appears to have moved to a safer color, maybe yellow, on the threat level chart, certainly if you ask China how it ranks, while for America, Iran has jumped to Code Red "Severe." And there's another country that has been very bad, but seldom gets mentioned -- Pakistan.

It's not clear that this is the correct priority. It seems likely that North Korea actually has nuclear weapons, although nobody in the West knows for sure. Condi Rice tried to gin up Chinese enthusiasm for jumping on North Korea during her recent visit to Beijing, but it doesn't sound like she had much success. Meanwhile, Iran, which probably cannot build a nuclear weapon for years, if ever, is the subject of continual discussion and joint efforts by the US and Europe to derail its current nuclear program, particularly uranium enrichment.

While its nuclear activities remain uncriticized by the Administration, an undisputed nuclear villain, Pakistan, is being rewarded by the US with an offer of F-16s. In one of the worst misuses of intelligence since the Iraq war, the US tried to tar North Korea as a nuclear supplier to Libya, when it knew the real supplier was Pakistan, according to the Washington Post. It appears that Libya was offered some North Korean uranium, but only because Pakistan bought it and resold it to Libya. The US was covering up the Pakistani role, and inflating the North Korean role.

Meanwhile, we have discovered yet another deal that Pakistan was involved in, procuring high speed switches, probably klystrons (although nobody uses that word), and oscilloscopes for use in developing its own nuclear weapons, according to the LA Times. The arrest was made in Denver. We don't know much about this deal, or about the North Korean uranium, because Pakistan won't let us talk to A.Q. Khan, who orchestrated the deal.

Kyrgyzstan Revolution and Russia

The Kyrgyzstan revolution seems to be proceeding, although the old ruler has not bowed out. The law is still somewhat murky about which Parliament has power, the old one, or the new one, and thus about which one has the authority to appoint an interim leader. Nevertheless, if no one seriously challenges the new leader, Bakiyev, it would appear that he will stay and rule.

The LA Times had an excellent article about what the revolutions in former Soviet empire -- Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan -- mean for present day Russia. Georgia was led by former friend of the US, Shevardnadze, who had been Russian foreign minister under Gorbechev during the peaceful fall of the Soviet Union. After years in power in Georgia, he apparently went bad and was replaced by Saakashvili, who studied law at Columbia and worked for a US law firm before returning to Georgia. It sounds as if Kyrgyzstan is a somewhat similar case. The old president, Akayev, was seen as somewhat enlightened for a leader in his part of the world, but also may have gone bad by letting his relatives and cronies take too much in power and corruption. In any case, it seems that the political system in Krygyzstan was better than the current systems in its neighbors, such as Kazakhstan. So what does this overthrow mean for them?

The LA Times article says Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Moldova all appear vulnerable to revolutions. Ironically, some of the hardline dictatorships, Belarus, for example, appear less vulnerable because they are more willing to forcefully crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators. The LA Times says that Russia failed to step in when it could to peacefully prevent the revolution in Kyrgyzstan, and that therefore, other former countries of the Soviet empire no longer fear Russian interference.

However, I think we have yet to see how this will develop in Russia. It depends on Putin's personality and on the influence of other Russian factors, such as the military and popular opinion. Ukraine is the biggest loss, and was handled the worst by Russia, making it the biggest blemish on Putin's record. It was part of Russia for centuries; it is big and has natural resources. If Putin believes that as a result of these three revolutions, especially Ukraine, he is perceived as too weak by the Russian people, he may feel that he has to act more strongly. On the other hand, Russia has not been able to cope with the rebel turmoil in Chechnya, which is still (much to its dismay) part of Russia. If it can't cope with this rebellion at home, how can it cope with revolutions beyond the Russian borders?

In these calculations, don't forget that Russia still has enough nuclear armed missiles to destroy most of the populated world -- Central Asia, the US, Europe, China, whatever it wants. It's not clear how useful these nuclear weapons are in the current situation, but no doubt there are some Russians thinking about how to gain advantage from them.

Newmont Mining Problems in Indonesia

The New York Times reports on the continuing problems of Newmont Mining in Indonesia. The gold mining company, based in Denver, is accused of allowing heavy metals, particularly arsenic and mercury, to pollute the bay near the company's mine near Buyat Bay. The residents claim that they have experienced a number of diseases and birth defects as a result. The Indonesian government has now brought civil and criminal cases against the company, including six executives, two of them Americans. Newmont denies the charges.

According to the article, Newmont has defenders in Indonesia, but the trials will be allowed to proceed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Wolfowitz on His Way to World Bank

The consensus seems to be that Wolfowitz is on his way to being approved for the World Bank job, as reported in this Washington Post article. Actually I would not object to his appointment if he had not been an architect of the pre-emptive war in Iraq. Arguably there is the McNamara precedent -- the Vietnam War chief who went on to lead the World Bank. Whether McNamara was a great bank president or not is moot; he didn't destroy the institution. But the main issue is one of tone, and this is a different generation and a different war. The US more or less backed into the Vietnam war one escalation at a time at the invitation of the South Vietnamese government, which needed support to fight off the Communist north. We went full bore into Iraq for regime change, to overthrow the government, not to support an existing government. Lots of things we did in Vietnam may have been worse than things we have done in Iraq, but it was different. (I speak defensively as a Vietnam veteran.)

By invading Iraq contrary to the wishes of the world community as expressed in the UN, and for reasons that turned out to be wrong, i.e., the famous missing weapons of mass destruction, we turned the international, multilateral system on its head under Wolfowitz' leadership. Now he is off to be one of the leaders of that multilateral system. For me, that does not compute. Like Bolton at the UN, Wolfowitz will be the fox in the hen house. America is out to destroy the post-World War II system established by Roosevelt, Churchill, and company, including Stalin and Truman. Midgets are undoing the work of giants.

The US has never discussed how many Iraqis were killed, and continue to be killed, as a result of the war, but it's a lot, certainly tens of thousands, although how many tens is hard to know. In any case, Wolfowitz has a lot of blood on his hands. I thought it was interesting that when PBS had a debate about Wolfowitz' appointment, his main defender was Jewish, former Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, who incidentally works for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy founded by former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, an Australian Jew like current World Bank President Wolfensohn. And today, an op-ed in the New York Times supporting Wolfowitz was written by another Jew, James Rubin, who used to be the spokesman for the State Department and whose current claim to fame is being married to CNN correspondent Christianne Amanpour. I would be more convinced of Wolfowitz' virtues if some well-known, politically moderate gentiles were to speak on his behalf, and if they were to say not just that he would not destroy the institution, but that he would actually be good for it.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Death of George Kennan

George Kennan, who passed on last night, was the proof that a Foreign Service officer can be more than just a bureaucrat. The New York Times obituary brings out, though, how at odds he was with the government and its policies after the initial success of his "long telegram" from Moscow and the Foreign Affairs X article. Interestingly, his initial success continued upon his return to Washington after World War II as the head of State Department policy planning under General George Marshall, where Kennan was one of the originators of the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe. General Marshall is another of my heroes. He and Kennan represent some of the best of America, men of high moral character who excelled in serving their country. Their policies were truly "Christian" in the sense that they embodied the ideal of loving your neighbor that is missing in current policies. I don't think either of them would necessarily like being called "Christian" today, with all the baggage that word carries. Earlier, Christian virtues of love and caring were instilled in people and became part of their world outlook without being tested by how often they went to church or whether they had "accepted Jesus as their personal savior."

The world learned that the retribution extracted from Germany after World War I did not work, and under Kennan's and Marshall's guidance a much more Christian policy of forgiveness after World War II was probably one of the most successful foreign policy strategies ever pursued.

Now, under Bush, we again have an un-Christian, World War I policy of revenge. I don't think it's going to work. Colin Powell was the leader closest to following the Kennan-Marshall policies, but he was canned by Bush because of that. Tough policies work for a while. There were about 30 years between World War I and World War II. Hitler had great success for the first decade or so of his leadership in Germany. But the post World War II regime lasted over 60 years, before it was cast aside by narrow minds and greedy leaders.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Bush Names Wolfowitz to World Bank

It will be interesting to see what happens with the Wolfowitz nomination to the World Bank. The Yahoo article reporting Bush's decision said:
"European sources said Wolfowitz's name was circulated informally among board directors several weeks ago and was rejected. 'Mr. Wolfowitz's nomination today tells us the U.S. couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks,' one source said."
The predominantly Jewish neo-cons believe that the only thing that counts is power, that the US is the only superpower in the world today, and thus that it can do anything it wants. Bush is apparently testing that theory. Some events in the Middle East, Iraqi elections and Lebanese demonstrations, for example, indicate that he may be right, but time will tell. There's no new government in either Iraq or Lebanon, yet.

As you can probably guess from my previous postings, I'm not too happy with Wolfowitz' nomination. He does have diplomatic experience as Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia, Ambassador to Indonesia, and dean of the John's Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) , but his role as chief villain in the Iraq war overshadows any good he may have done before.

It's interesting that one Jew whose surname starts with Wolf, is named to replace another Jew whose surname starts with Wolf. It's a small club. But as far as I know, Wolfowitz is American, while current World Bank President Wolfensohn was born in Australia. Interestingly, Clinton's choice to be US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, is also Australian, a Jew who was born in England, but raised in Australia. Indyk also taught at SAIS. Small world!

Joyce's Ulysses 2

Page 33 of the Borders edition of Ulysses that is a facsimile of the 1922 edition:

"Mark my words, Mr. Dedalus, he said. England is in the hands of the jews. In all the highest places: her finance, her press. And they are the signs of a nation's decay. Wherever they gather they eat up the nation's vital strength. I have seen it coming these years. As sure as we are standing here the jew merchants are already at their work of destruction. Old England is dying."

And later, p. 36:

"-- I just wanted to say, he said. Ireland, they say, has the honour of being the only country which never persecuted the jews. Do you know that? No. And do you know why?

"He frowned sternly on the bright air.

"-- Why, sir, Stephen asked, beginning to smile.

"-- Because she never let them in, Mr Deasy said solemnly.

"A coughball of laughter leaped from his throat dragging after it a rattling chain of phlegm. He turned back quickly, coughing, laughing, his lifted arms waving to the air."

Monday, March 14, 2005

US Withdrawal from ICJ Review of Vienna Convention Cases

The US has withdrawn from the agreement allowing the International Court of Justice to review cases involving the Vienna Convention. The court ruled last year that the US had failed to comply with the provisions of the Vienna Convention granting access by consuls of the home country to Mexicans arrested in the United States.

The decision to withdraw is a sad one for the US, since we should be leading the way in respecting law, not acting as a scofflaw. In addition, the Vienna Convention will do more to protect American citizens who are arrested overseas than it will interfere punishing with foreigners arrested in the US. Despite all the press about our treatment of some people arrested on terrorist charges (see my previous post), Americans do not routinely torture suspects arrested by the police, while other countries do, which is why I so strongly oppose the policy of rendition of US prisoners to other countries.

This is another example of the neo-cons' contempt for international law, regardless of the justifications made below by the State Department briefer. Contempt for international law is probably a self-fulfilling strategy. Law depends on tradition and precedent, and to the extent that the US asserts its sovereignty and refuses to acknowledge international law, international law ceases to function. Traditionally good, moral countries have benefited from international law, and bad countries have been hindered by it, which is not to say that international law will prevent a bad country determined to go to war with its neighbors from doing so, but it is a hindrance, and tends to show who is right and who is wrong. By snubbing its nose at international law, the US is lining up on the wrong side of the law with the bad guys.

Another neo-con objection is that opponents of the death penalty are using this international law provision to try to block executions, which is true. But, on the other hand, if the states involved, particularly Texas, had complied with the provisions of the Vienna Convention by granting Mexican consuls access to the prisoners, then this channel would not be open to the death penalty opponents. The states left themselves vulnerable by failing to abide by the Vienna Convention. Plus, the death penalty issue cuts another way: these are not cases of petty theft or shoplifting; these are cases in which the state is going to kill the accused. Therefore, it seems proper that the state should make a concerted effort to fulfill every legal requirement before it does so, including complying with the Vienna Convention.

The following is the statement made at the Department of State press briefing on March 10, 2005:

QUESTION: Adam, can you discuss a bit about the rational behind the Administration's decision to withdraw from the optional protocol through the Geneva Conventions which give the International Court of Justice and measure of jurisdiction in U.S. capital cases? There's already criticism that this is part of a continuing trend of unilateralism --

MR. ERELI: Right. Well, let me address that latter criticism first. I don't think anybody should conclude by our decision to withdraw from the optional protocol that we are any less committed to the international system or that we are in any way walking back from international commitments. To the contrary, we remain a party to the Vienna Convention, we remain committed to fulfilling its provisions and we stand by it.

Second of all, the International Court of Justice, pursuant to a dispute referred to it under the optional protocol, rendered a judgment in the Avena a case dealing with how state courts in the United States handles certain capital cases of foreign nationals' claim to consular access. That is a decision that -- the decision the ICJ handed down is a decision, frankly, that we don't agree with.

Yet, in recognition of the optional protocol and our international commitments, the President has determined that the United States will comply with the judgment of the International Court of Justice and that we will review -- our state courts will review -- the cases that ICJ responded to.

However, we would also note that when we signed up to the optional protocol, it is not anticipated that this -- that when you refer a case -- cases that would be referred to the ICJ and the ICJ would use the -- and the optional protocol would be used to review cases of domestic criminal law.

This is a development, frankly, that we had not anticipated in signing up to the optional protocol and that we, frankly -- we -- and I would note, you know, 70 percent of the countries that are signatories to the Vienna Convention also decided not to sign up to the optional protocol so it's not just the United States going against everybody else. I mean, we are in a sense joining an existing majority in not participating in the optional protocol and the reason is because we see the optional protocol being used by people or developing in -- going in directions that was not our intent in getting involved.

I mean, so the bottom line is we believe in the international system, we are a committed participants in the international system, as reflected by our continued commitment to the Vienna Convention and its provisions, as well as our decision to comply with the judgment. But at the same time, we see that in this specific case, and in the use of optional protocol, frankly, the way it's being interpreted, the way it's being used, go against the ideas -- the original ideas -- that we signed up for.

QUESTION: But protocol came in handy for the United States during the Iran hostage crisis. Then there's criticism that we're now cherry-picking the provisions that we like and don't like, that this might be short-sighted in the long-run.

MR. ERELI: Well, again, I don't think we're cherry-picking. I think that this is a really unexpected and unwelcome precedent where people who don't like decisions of our state courts can use an international court as a court of appeal. And that doesn't make any sense at all. And so what we're talking about is, we've got a system of justice that works in the United States and I don't think you should compare it to other countries, like Iran in 1979. We have a system of justice that works. We have a system of justice that provides people with due process and review of their cases. And it's not appropriate that there be some international court that comes in and can reverse decisions of our national courts.

QUESTION: A follow-up?

MR. ERELI: Yeah.

QUESTION: But why does the United States on the one hand decide to, you know, go along with this ruling to review these cases and then just days later decide to pull back?

MR. ERELI: Because, precisely because, we respect the international system, because we respect the authorities and the jurisdictions of international institutions when we sign up to those international -- when we sign up and submit ourselves to those jurisdictions. So it shows that, look, even though we don't like something, even though we think it's wrong, if we submitted ourselves to that jurisdiction freely and according to international obligations, then we will honor those international obligations. And that's why we are complying with the case.

But we're also saying in the future we're going to find other ways to resolve disputes that come under the Vienna Convention other than submitting them to the ICJ. We'll do something else. So we're still committed to the Vienna Convention. We're still committed to upholding its principles and fulfilling our obligations under that convention. What we are saying is when there are questions about that, we'll seek to resolve them in a venue other than the ICJ. Given that the ICJ is in this case, as well as the Lagrand case, establish a precedent of using this mechanism to affect our domestic legal system.

US Treatment of Prisoners Accused of Terrorism Is Becoming a Scandal

The various reports of mistreatment of Muslims accused by the Administration of being terrorists are becoming so widespread that it is reaching scandalous proportions. In Iraq, Abu Ghraib is the most widely known, but there are allegations of mistreatment at other Iraqi facilities. Several prisoners are reported to have died in US custody in Afghanistan. There are numerous reports of mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo. Finally, there are prisoners who are unaccounted for although they were arrested or captured by US police or military; most of these are thought to be in countries that will torture them on behalf of the US under a process called rendition.

Today there are reports that a judge has blocked the transfer of 13 Yemenis from Guantanamo to some unknown site. Apparently the Administration wished to transfer them somewhere, because it is afraid that the US court system, in accordance with recent decisions by the US Supreme Count, will assert its authority over them and make the government prove that it has some legal basis for holding them. Attorneys got wind of this plan and got a judge to block their transfer while the courts still had authority over the prisoners. Much to the government's dismay, the Supreme Court held that keeping prisoners at Guantanamo did not prevent the courts from having jurisdiction over them. So, the administration apparently wanted to move them farther away to a foreign country where the Supreme Court would have less basis for exercising its authority.

It remains to be seen, but some justices on the Supreme Court may not like the government's attempt to undermine the Court's ruling and avoid its jurisdiction by moving the prisoners. That, plus the disturbing stories of how the prisoners that were captured by US authorities have been treated in foreign countries under the extraordinary rendition process, may cause the Supreme Court to extend its reach farther than it has in the rulings to date.

The whole matter of treatment of prisoners taken in the "war on terrorism" disgusts me. I am deeply disappointed that the US has stooped to terrorist methods in fighting terrorism. When the government abandons our system of laws under the Constitution, the terrorists have won a battle, if not the war. I was disappointed that Kissinger and Holbrooke today on CNN's Late Edition failed to roundly condemn the process of rendition, although they certainly did not say that it is a good thing.

America has ceased to be a shining city on a hill, which it has been at some times in the past, if not at all times. Lights of freedom, honor and dignity are going out all over the America. Part of the reason for this is that many in government are cowards. They avoided service in Vietnam. Even if they are too young to have served in Vietnam, they are not interested in serving the country, but they came into power interested in milking the country for every red cent they could get. Then when they were laying the foundation for paying off all the powerful interests that put them in power -- passing tax cuts, etc. -- terrorists attacked us. The attacks succeeded because the administration was asleep, and now is terrified that there will be other attacks. Partly they are afraid that they will die, and partly they are afraid that if they fail to stop another attack the American people will wake up and turn against them for their failures. Therefore, they have panicked and resorted to torture and other illegal or immoral means to try to stop another attack, when the proper response would be to look the terrorists in the eye, and say, "You can't make me stoop to your level. I can beat you by fighting you legally and morally." But this group of cowards can't face up to that.

Some time ago, Pat Buchanan said on the McLaughlin Group television show that midway through his second term, George Bush II would be mired in a huge scandal. He didn't say what it would be, and probably was just extrapolating from the experience of previous two-term presidents: Clinton's Monica scandal and impeachment, Reagan's Iran-Contra, Nixon's Watergate, etc. However, the high-handed, illegal, immoral treatment of those captured by US authorities in the war on terrorism may be it.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Joyce's Ulysses

I am concerned that so much of this blog has recently been about Jews. This was never an issue for me until I was assigned to the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland, during the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II. It was all-Holocaust all the time. It was totally in your face. It appeared that the Holocaust was the most important thing that happened in World War II.

Of course, actually the most important thing was that the Allies defeated Hitler. If they hadn't, where would the Jews be? It was particularly grating because my father fought in Europe during World War II. Shouldn't he get some recognition for that? Now with the Jewish spin, there is mostly criticism that the Allies were too slow liberating the Nazi death camps. But they did liberate them. Couldn't the Jews at least say "Thanks"?

I just started reading James Joyce's Ulysses, which probably means I have too much time on my hands, but I found the following in the opening pages:

"Of course I'm a Britisher, Haine's voice said, and I feel as one. I don't want to see my country fall into the hands of German jews either. That's our national problem, I'm afraid, just now."

This comes after considerable discussion running down the Roman Catholic church.

I don't know much about Ulysses, except that it's supposed to be a classic. I suppose even classics might contain anti-Semitism. But it might be that Jews are not entirely guiltless in this matter. Israel is a small country, but it is responsible for an enormous amount of the animosity in the world.

In general, Anglos are somewhat reserved and perhaps cold. Jews are not. I remember a description in the Wall Street Journal years ago of the different personalities of former Citibank chief John Reed, an Anglo, and his successor, Sandy Weill, a Jew who forced Reed out, albeit with a huge golden parachute. The Journal talked about how cold Reed was and how in-your-face Weill was.

I just stumbled on another similar description in Business Week on the Internet of Weill and then-American Express CEO James Robinson III.

"The merger discussions between Weill and Robinson were marked by their contrasting personalities and backgrounds. Weill was a striver who had fired thousands and alienated some of his former partners and, doubtless, many others on his way to the top. Robinson had glided into power, it seemed, stepping on few, if any, toes. Weill was as emotional as Robinson was cool. Shearson was as loud and noisy as AmEx was buttoned-down and corporate. They knew there would be a culture clash, but they hoped the new firm would gain the best of both cultures.

"Not only were Robinson's and Weill's personalities and backgrounds different, so were their management styles. At the time of his merger negotiations with Robinson, Weill still ran Shearson as he had run CBWL-Hayden Stone, smoking cigars, getting in subordinates' faces, making snap decisions, and continuing to combine personal and professional lives. For example, he and Joan would go on vacations with key executives and their wives after weeks of all-nighters working on a deal.

"Robinson, known as 'Jimmy Three Sticks,' ran American Express like the Fortune 500 company it was. Son of a banker from a prominent Atlanta family, he spoke with polish. Thoughtful and considerate, Robinson embodied the image of a courtly Southern gentleman. In his frequent speeches and public appearances around the world, he came across as a strong, hard-charging CEO, yet inside the firm, his leadership style could be described as conservative. He eschewed risk, preferring a bureaucratic, committee approach to decision making. A formal process was in place to vet new ideas. Things moved slowly and inefficiently to avoid mistakes.

"Importantly for Weill's later showdowns with John Reed (the CEO of Citibank, who became co-CEOs of Citigroup with Weill in 1998), Robinson shared some similarities with the deep-thinking Citicorp banker. Both took the reins of power in their early 40s. Both were firm believers in the transforming power of technology. Both were happy to delegate authority, preferring to conceive of grand plans and let others perform the at-times mundane efforts to carry them out. Weill, of course, shared none of these characteristics with the two biggest adversaries of his career. Luckily for him, he had to face only one at a time.
Another recent example, from the New York Times, is a description of Dr. Zvi Y. Fuks (presumably Jewish with the name Zvi), one of the doctors recently accused of insider trading in Imclone stock by Sam Waksal, the Jewish man who sent Martha Stewart to jail. The Times article said:
"Dr. Louis A. Pena, who worked with Dr. Fuks in the late 1990's, said: 'He can get aggressive; if he disagrees with you he gets two inches away from your nose and tells you so.' But Dr. Pena, now a scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, also said that Dr. Fuks was smart, capable and highly respected."
There may well be some personality differences here having to do with race, religion, upbringing, or something. You have to wonder what's going on in the Pentagon between Rumsfeld (Anglo), and Wolfowitz and Feith (Jews). Looking at these other examples above, it seems likely that the Jews in the Pentagon and their Jewish neo-con allies outside the Pentagon, at the American Enterprise Institute and various other think tanks and publications, are running the show. Iraq may well be a race war in which Jews send Christian soldiers to kill Muslims. I can only say with Joseph Conrad as his boat plowed into the Heart of Darkness, or with Marlon Brando's version in Apocalypse Now, "The horror! The horror!"

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Can't Let Bolton Go By

I can't let John Bolton's nomination as Ambassador to the UN go by unnoticed. Liberal Democrats were so happy when Bob Zoellick was named Deputy Secretary of State instead of Bolton. The Republicans played the public affairs angle well. Condi Rice got some credit for not being a dyed in the wool neo-con while she went to Europe to make goo-goo eyes at Chirac and company. But it was all a farce. The Bush administration showed its true colors by naming Bolton to an even more visible foreign policy job than Deputy Secretary.

I don't think it bodes well for the US. I don't think Bolton is very smart despite his two degrees from Yale. Yale has turned out some pretty poor scholars, starting with "W." However, I think the main trouble with W may be that he is lazy; he doesn't like to do his homework. Thousands died on 9/11 because he was not minding the store. Similarly, Bolton's problem is not so much that he is stupid -- he may not be -- but that he is an unquestioning ideologue. He knows what he thinks; don't confuse him with the facts.

The upshot is that Bolton has done a poor job of controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction during the first four years of the Bush administration. Iraq didn't have any, but crying "Wolf!" on Iraq has undermined our credibility on dealing with more serious non-proliferation countries, such as North Korea and Iran.

Will he do any better at the UN than he did handling arms control? I doubt it, especially since he will be dealing with people and institutions that he has already insulted. He started his crusade against the UN while he was Assistant Secretary for International Organizations (the UN) during the Bush I administration. He has a long history of working against the UN as one of the main US policy makers on UN issues.

It's interesting that one of Bolton's main accomplishments cited by Condi Rice during his previous stint working on UN issues was blocking the Arab "Zionism is racism" resolution at the UN. I think there is at least a racist component to Zionism. If not, why do Israelis discriminate between Arabs and Jews? It's a commonly accepted thesis, most recently by the mayor of London. So, Bolton gets no points from me for defeating that resolution.