Monday, December 11, 2006

Israel Doesn't Like Baker/Hamilton Iraq Report

Jews must be feeling under siege. Israeli Premier Olmert has spoken out against the Iraq Study Group report, according to the Christian Science Monitor. He says Iraq's problems have nothing to do with Israel's, despite the fact that Bush originally said that the road to peace in Jerusalem lay through Baghdad. Now, the Baker commission says that the road to peace in Baghdad lies through Jerusalem, which Olmert does not like. President Bush is welded at the hip to Israel. We started the war in Iraq because of pressure from Jews -- Wolfowitz, Perle, Kristol, Feith, and Adelman chief among them. Now that Baker and company say that this Jewish war has created problems for the US, Israel and American Jews take offense.

International Jewry Attacks Carter for Palestine Book

A former director of the Carter Center, Kenneth Stein, has attacked former President Jimmy Carter's new book about Palestine, according to The New York Times. It sounds like Carter's book is critical of Israel, and therefore Israel will gin up its global propaganda machine to oppose it. I don't know, but Ken Stein sounds Jewish. On CNN or some news channel, I saw that he has also enlisted Dennis Ross, the State Department's old Middle East negotiator, who is definitely Jewish. They claim that Carter lifted maps from Ross' book. I could be, but I'm sure that if it is so, Carter did not do it deliberately. One of his researchers may have found the maps and thought they were in the public domain, which in fact they may be, depending on where they came from originally. The NYT article also carries criticisms from Alan Dershowitz, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center (surprise, surprise). Wouldn't it just be easier to run some kind of joint statement like, "Jews hate Jimmy Carter for his book on Palestine."

Monday, December 04, 2006

What Next in Iraq?

I suppose that I ought to get on the bandwagon with all the Democrats who want us to start leaving Iraq soon. But it we were a responsible nation, we would not do it. The problem is that we have created a monster in Iraq, as this report from the Christian Science Monitor illustrates. The Iraqi people are suffering greatly as a result of the bungled invasion by the US. If we just leave ("cut and run"), things are likely to get worse for the average citizen. Perhaps eventually some strongman will come along to replace Saddam, perhaps al-Sadr. But in the meantime, things will be bloody.

If the US were a responsible nation, we would follow John McCain's advice and increase our troop presence. It would probably require us to reinstate the draft, as proposed by Cong. Rangel. I support bringing back the draft, if only to bring the military up to a higher moral standard, because if a draft were truly imposed across class lines, we would get some higher class troops who would be repelled by Abu Ghraib and other atrocities. But the main reason for a draft would be to allow us to bring troop strength in Iraq up to 500,000 to 1,000,000 troops, putting an American on every street corner if necessary in order to curb the violence.

But I don't think we'll do that. Americans are selfish and lazy. They only bought off on the Iraq war because Bush and company promised it would be cheap and easy. If we are not going to make any sacrifices to do the right thing in Iraq, we may as well leave tomorrow and close our eyes and ears to the carnage that will follow, because it's going to come sooner or later if we don't do something extreme to prevent it.

Hooray! Bolton Is Leaving

Glad to see that Bush and company will not try to get John Bolton confirmed by the Senate. He's gone when his recess appointment runs out. Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy. Why should someone who hates international law be our ambassador to the UN? We've had enough arrogance and hatred. Let's get somebody who will try to use the UN for whatever it can do.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Litvinenko's Jewish Connection

The Washington Post reports Russian allegations that poisoned KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko was connected to Boris Berezovsky, one of the most wealthy Russian billionaires, who now lives in Britain. The book The Oligarchs by David Hoffman says that Berezovsky, like imprisoned Yukos billionaire Mikhail Khordokovsky, was Jewish and suffered from anti-Semitic discrimation during his career as a scientist in Russia. An article in the British Independent newspaper reports that after he moved to Britain, Litvinenko "was quickly submerged into Berezovsky's circle of influential emigrés."

The same Independent article reports that Alex Goldfarb, who was seen being interviewed on several TV reports about Litvinenko, is a biochemist who is the director of a human rights group set up by Berezovsky in 2000. Goldfarb sounds pretty Jewish. Furthermore, the article states that public relations for Litvinenko were being handled by Lord Tim Bell, who handles public relations for Berezovsky (and Margaret Thather). While Tim Bell doesn't sound Jewish, he was a big shot at the Saatchi & Saatchi public relations firm, which was founded by Maurice Saatchi, a Jew born in Baghdad, Iraq, and a current member of the British Conservative Party's shadow government. After leaving Saatchi, Tim Bell founded his own public relations firm. He has recently been an adviser to Iraq on the promotion of democracy.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Impact of US Recognition of India's Nuclear Status

The Senate has passed legislation implementing the agreement reached by the Bush administration to legitimize India's nuclear program and allow nuclear cooperation. One the political side, it helps align India with US policy vis-a-vis China and possibly Iran One the non-proliferation side, it abandons the principles of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which should penalize countries that develop nuclear weapons capability outside the international framework. The BBC reports that while there is strong bipartisan support for the agreement, there is also strong opposition from the non-proliferation community.

In related developments, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Israel may follow India's lead and have its nuclear program legitimized by making one of its facilities open to inspectors while retaining the secrecy of another as a military facility. Meanwhile, China and Pakistan are negotiating Chinese assistance to Pakistan's nuclear program, according to the Financial Times. This would be China's balance of power move to offset America's nuclear alliance with India.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Judith Miller's Bias

It never occurred to me until I read this recent article in the Washington Post that Judith Miller, the New York Times reporter who went to prison to protect her sources, most of whom leaked information favorable to the Bush Administration, was Jewish. This posting by Alfred Lilienthal indicates that she is and that she was inclined to push an Israeli line in her reporting:

New York Times columnist Judith Miller has been known to direct her considerable reportorial skills to support the perceptions of some of her co-religionists in the US Jewish mainstream. It was she who printed Solarz's reference to a "Middle East Munich, " after having reported a change of mind by President Bush "in trying to cajole the man he had called 'Hitler revisited'." Her articles seldom ignore an opportunity to conjure up the Nazi spectre. Recently, she authored a lengthy book, One by One by One: Facing the Holocaust, based on interviews with European survivors of the Nazi horrors. Describing her book as not about the Holocaust, but "only how it is remembered, " Miller readily admits in her preface that "American Jews have a practical stake in keeping memory of the Holocaust alive, as a way of maintaining American support for Israel."

She apparently has a stake herself in incessantly pricking the Christian conscience so as to bring about what, for her and her newspaper, is the correct perspective toward the Middle East conflict. Undaunted by the prospect of a war in which thousands of Iraqis and her fellow Americans might die needlessly, she, like Kissinger and Solarz, is set on a violent solution. For her, no Holocaust would be good enough for Saddam Hussain or for the Palestinians!

Unfortunately, stuff like this reinforces my belief that the war in Iraq was a Jewish inspired war. In trying to find out more about this allegation, I also ran into reports (particularly this from the Jerusalem Post) that Lewis Libby, presumably her main source of information favorable to the Administration and the war in Iraq, is Jewish.

Adding Judith Miller and Lewis Libby to the mix that already includes Richard Perle, William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and many other Jews, the Iraq war really begins to look like it was started by a Jewish conspiracy. But if Jews are so smart, why did they start a war that in the short to medium term appears to strengthen Israel's enemies? So far the main beneficiary of the war in Iraq is Iran. It's possible that if the internecine bloodletting among the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds becomes more severe, it could make the whole Muslim world forget about Israel, or weaken them so much that they present less of a threat to Israel, but that seems like a big gamble.

Bush did not come in as a foreign policy President or a military leader. So, maybe for the Jewish hawks (or Vulcans) Iraq just presented itself as a target of opportunity after 9/11. Bush felt he needed to do something strong after 9/11, and he already wanted to one-up his father on Iraq by getting rid of Saddam, which his father had failed to do. Rove told him that wars are good for getting re-elected (which was true). The Bush 41-Saddam failure may have been the hook for the Jews' getting Bush 43 to invade Iraq, while there was no similar hook for Iran, although Iran may have posed a greater threat to both Israel and the US. That assumes, of course, that there was some real conspiracy or cabal, which there may not have been. But the vaunted influence of AIPAC and other American Jewish political groups and think tanks, which appear more prone to hawkish group-think than Israeli Jews, lends some credence to the idea.

The Washington Post article that prompted me to look into Judith Miller's background said:
Miller testified that she flew to Israel in 1993 after reading about Salah's arrest and contacted aides to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whom she described as a longtime friend....

Defense attorneys repeatedly tried to portray her as biased in favor of Israel.

"Have you ever been used as a Mossad asset?" asked Salah's attorney, Michael Deutsch, referring to the Israeli intelligence service.

Miller said no.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Is Condi One of the Good Guys?

This article in the NYT gives the impression that Condi Rice and SecDef Rumsfeld were not able to work together, but maybe she and Defense nominee Bob Gates can. I think that's a false interpretation of history, although one that Condi would certainly like. As National Security Adviser she almost always took Rumsfeld's side against SecState Colin Powell. Now that she is all dovey at State, she would like everyone to think that she has always been one. But she was a vicious hawk at the NSC. Iraq is her baby as much as Rumsfeld's.

I'm pleased she has had a change of heart, but I worry that it's not genuine. She can tell which way the wind is blowing, and she's going along with it. When a little wisdom and backbone would have been important, two or three years ago, she didn't have it. It would be interesting to know what role she played in stabbing Rummy in the back. She certainly has turned out to be the survivor of the various Vulcans (named for her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama) in the administration. It's not because of how well she ran the foreign and defense policy of the US at the NSC, but rather how well she played the game of bureaucratic infighting. She has the blood of more than 100,000 dead Iraqis on her hands, not to mention that of more than 2,000 US troops.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Jews Not Monolithic

Because of my concern about Jews role in instigating the Iraq war, I may have been too hard on Jews in general. My main concern is for Republican Jews, e.g., William Kristol, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz. I worry that they are more loyal to Israel than to the US. They think they are loyal to the US, because they think that Israel's interests and America's interests are identical, but I don't think they are.

Democratic Jews, Robert Rubin, George Soros, for example, have been a force for good. So, maybe it's more important whether they are Democrats or Republicans, rather than whether they are Jews or Gentiles. Rubin did a good job as Treasury Secretary under Clinton. I expect that Henry Paulson, a Gentile, will also do a good job, but he takes over after a poor job by Snow, and in the face of poor economic policies, e.g., huge deficits and unwarranted tax cuts for the very rich, carried out for years by this administration.

Rumsfeld Defender Is Prominent Jew

The PBS Newshour had a discussion of Rumsfeld's tenure as Defense Secretary on Thursday night. The two discussants were Dov Zakheim and Lawrence Korb. Dov Zakheim, who was comptroller of the Pentagon, is also a Jewish rabbi. Interestingly, when you search for Rabbi Zakheim on Yahoo or Google, links come up to his Wikipedia entry, so that at some time the entry contained the word "rabbi," but when you look at the entry now, it no longer contains the word. So, somebody has taken "rabbi" out. But Aljazeera and some other web sites devoted to worrying about Jews in government, like me I suppose, also have it. According to the latter web site, he is a dual Israeli-American citizen; so, how did he get the security clearances necessary to work at such a high level in the Pentagon?

Anyway, my point is that the Rumsfeld Pentagon has been so dominated by Jews that the best person PBS could find to defend him was Zakheim, an Israeli rabbi. Couldn't they find a Protestant American to defend him, since Rumsfeld is, as far as I know, a Protestant American? I am concerned that Rumsfeld just turned the Pentagon over to Israeli interests (Perle, Wolfowitz and company), who started the war in Iraq to help secure Israel and sent a bunch of Christian soldiers to fight it. Now that it may have actually decreased Israeli security, Perle, Adelman and company are distancing themselves from the war in the upcoming Vanity Fair.

Monday, November 06, 2006

MTCR White Paper

This is a background paper on the MTCR, which interests me since I used to work on the MTCR, and was one of the creators of it (maybe in the same sense that Al Gore created the Internet). Anyway, when you go back to the 1980s and the early 90s, I was there, for better or worse. It would have been a better agreement if not for the opposition of Richard Perle's offices. But since it is about the only non-proliferation agreement around covering missiles, it's still in use.

Neocon Regrets

In the new issue of Vanity Fair, several neocons come out with their regrets about the war in Iraq and their contempt for George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld. Interestingly all the neocons interviewed appear to be Jewish, except perhaps for Frank Gaffney, an acolyte of Perle's, who apparently writes a weekly column for Jewish World Review.

This appears to be an example of, "Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan." I find it particularly galling, that the person most responsible for the Iraq debacle, Paul Wolfowitz, goes on leading the World Bank. This is much better for him than the Presidential medals that his colleagues Tenet, Franks, and Bremer got, while he deserves much worse.

In a way, I feel sorry for Bush, because he is such a midget in the job of President. He has neither the education nor the moral character for the job. If he is not stupid, then he is lazy, which is worse. However, he didn't want to the war on terror President, he wanted to be the education president or the tax-cut president. The first real war he ran into, Vietnam, he ran from. We should not have a coward leading America when it is attacked by anybody.

Of course, I don't really believe that there is a "war" on terror, any more than there is or was a "war" on poverty or a "war" against organized crime. We did start a war against Iraq, and we appear to be losing it.

We'll see what happens in tomorrow's elections. While it may be something of a referendum on the war, it does not allow people to vote on those who might be the best leaders to get us out of the war -- Chuck Hegel, John McCain, Joe Biden, John Warner. We don't need a plan so much as we need intelligent, courageous, well intentioned, patriotic leaders. They are sadly lacking in this our hour of need. Of course, Iraq is a little war, and we can walk away from it without too much loss to the US, although it will have been devastating for Iraq.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Draft Congress

This Rosa Brooks column in the LA Times straightens out some details about where our troops in Iraq come from. I may have been too pessimistic about their educational status. She says almost almost all are high school graduates, although this is not too great a recommendation in these days of poor high schools. Furthermore, she says most come from families with more than average income, but that there is an almost complete cutoff at $60,000. None come from families with incomes of more than $60,000. And although many, mainly officers, have college educations, almost none come from elite universities, like Harvard.

As a draftee in the Vietnam war, I think a cross-section is important to the military. It would help prevent torture, and other evils sometimes committed by today's troops who come from less advantaged backgrounds. Of course, this administration encourages them to torture, but now torture is delegated mainly to CIA agents, who are probably even better educated than military troops.

I am hoping that this election will be something of a political earthquake that will return us to traditional American values. I would be very pleased to see Rumsfeld go. For one thing, Rumsfeld hates the troops. He loves Star Wars missiles and stuff like that, and he likes special forces troops, but hates regular GIs, who bear the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and almost every other war.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Rumsfeld's Surrender

In hindsight, SecDef Rumsfeld surrendered to the Iraq insurrection way back, when just after the US reached Baghdad and the looting started, he said "Stuff happens." That was the beginning of the end. The US should have cracked down right then, hard. Our failure to do so was a sign of weakness that led us to the morass we are in today.

When we heard about what was going on then -- looting antiquities, burning files in ministries, stealing office equipment -- it didn't sound right. The invasion should have been accompanied by law and order. Instead, law and order broke down right away. And it's only been getting worse since then. What was anybody in power thinking when that happened? We were supposed to be introducing democracy. Democracy doesn't look like anarchy. The generals, Rumsfeld, Bush, Cheney, they all should have known that something was wrong. The mission had not been accomplished.

Are US Troops Top Notch? Send the Bush Girls!

Kerry is trying to back away from his remarks about the educational level of US troops, according to the Washington Post. Kerry claims he was talking about Bush's poor education, not the troops, but Bush had a good education -- boarding school, Yale, Harvard MBA. Either he is stupid and graduated because of his family connections, or he's not stupid, but acts like he is. On the other hand, because of difficulty filling the ranks, the Pentagon continually reduces the standards for accepting new recruits.

The poor educational and cultural level of the troops is no doubt linked to the atrocities at Abu Ghraib and the various murders and rapes that are being investigated. We have the best troops that our trailer parks and Wal Mart customers can supply.

If Bush thinks the war in Iraq is so crucial to US survival, why haven't his own daughters joined one of the services and gone to Iraq? If that's the highest calling there is, as he claims, why shouldn't they go? He can't even convince them that the war is important.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Jews Suppress Debate of Jewish Lobby Pressure on US

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), under ADL president Abe Foxman, has blocked debate of the extent to which the Jewish Lobby (AIPAC) influences US foreign policy, according to the New York Review of Books. The ADL pressured the Polish Consulate in New York to withdraw its permission to hold the debate on the Consulate's premises.

The letter of protest in the NY Review is signed by many people, a number of whom appear to be Jews. So, many Jews are on the correct side of this issue, and might be accused of anti-Semitism for permitting criticism of Israel. Jews are individuals just like everyone else. But the question remains: Are we engaged in a horrible war in Iraq because of the Jewish Lobby?

Friday, October 27, 2006

MIT Worries about War in Space

MIT's Technology Review worries about America's proclivity for war in space. The idea has been around a while, as I noted earlier.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Jews Behind War in Iraq

According to the LA Times, the Karen DeYoung biography of Colin Powell says that he was upset at the role of Jews in starting the Iraq war. The LA Times review says:
There is one bit of malice at work in the Powell-DeYoung version of these now familiar events that should not pass unremarked upon. According to the author, the then-secretary went out of his way to identify the pro-war neoconservatives as affiliates of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a think-tank with decidedly hard-line views on Israel's security. "Powell referred to Rumsfeld's team as the 'JINSA crowd.' " Later in "Soldier," readers are told that the neoconservatives in the Defense Department --— nearly all of them Jews -- supported war against Iraq as the first step to replacing Arab despots with democratic governments that would sever their ties to the Palestinians, thereby enhancing Israel's security. In explaining why he did not resign over his profound differences with the White House, Powell cited the example of Gen. George C. Marshall, who refused to quit as secretary of State even though he opposed President Truman's recognition of Israel as a quest for "Jewish votes."
The problem for Jews is Israel. Jews would be loyal to America if they didn't feel like they owned a firsallegiancece to Israel. Not all Jews do put Israel first, but many do, which makes them all suspect. This book reviewer is naive in believing that it is somehow racist to identify Jews as being the main force behind the Iraq war. It's like saying (as many people do) that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. He should read the paper on the influence of the Jewish Lobby in America.

Of course, the main people behind the war were Bush and Cheney, but Cheney is a madman, and Bush is an idiot. The Jews took advantage of this vacuum in the remnants of the Anglo power structure to start their own war.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

War in Space

When I went as an ACDA officer under Reagan and Ken Adelman to a UN meeting on space law about 25 years ago, our delegation's marching orders were to avoid anything that would restrict or prevent the US from any type of military use of space. According to this article in the Washington Post, nothing much has changed. That was the same job in which I had to write an arms control impact statement on space for the year in which Reagan announced the Star Wars initiative. From what I was allowed to write -- censored drastically by Richard Perle and his minions at the Pentagon -- you would have thought that Star Wars had almost no effect on space arms control.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

All Holocaust All the Time 6

I've never understood why it is a good idea to criminalize denial of the Holocaust, although there have been several high visibility trials in Germany. Anyway, France's decision to criminalize denial of Armenian genocide emphasizes the problems with such limitations on speech. This NYT editorial recognizes the free speech problem, but makes an exception for the Holocaust.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

North Korean Framework Agreement Was Not Worthless

This op-ed in the NYT explains that the nuclear framework agreement negotiated by the Clinton administration worked to put a cap on North Korea's plutonium production. It was not worthless as the Bush administration claimed. It was less than perfect, but Bush replaced something with nothing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

North Korea Nuclear Test

This article from the New Scientist explains the difficulties in evaluating an underground nuclear test like North Korea's. So far, it seems as if the test was less than completely successful, but if there was any nuclear component to the explosion, it is confirmation that the North Koreans have achieved one of the most difficult elements of the process of building an atomic bomb, separating out the plutonium.

A bomb made of enriched plutonium is easier to build and explode, but the uranium is harder to produce. Plutonium is not easy, because it is made from the highly radioactive waste products of a nuclear reactor. But the reactor and the separation facilities are easier to build than the temperamental centrifuges or very energy intensive processes needed to produce highly enriched uranium.

So, if the North Koreans have produced enough plutonium to use some to test a nuclear explosive device, then they are well along in the process, even if they don't have a deliverable bomb. It is possible that some of the Pakistani nuclear tests were also less than 100% successful.

The fact that North Korea has reached this level, whatever it turns out to be exactly, is a grave indictment of Bush's nuclear non-proliferation policy. The Clinton administration had an agreement in place the capped North Korea's plutonium production capability. When some evidence turned up that North Korea was working on uranium enrichment, we (the US) threw as hissy fit, and abandoned the cap on plutonium. So, now North Korea is close to having a plutonium bomb, although there is no indication that they are making much, if any, progress on a uranium bomb. We threw out the baby with the bathwater, and now we will reap the whirlwind, to mix some metaphors. The incompetent architect of this policy is UN Amb. John Bolton, who was Under Secretary of State for non-proliferation for years before he went to the UN.

This is a failure for which the administration should be pilloried. It was unnecessary and shows gross incompetence. It was brought to you by the same incompetents who brought you the Iraq war. We are less safe, but we didn't need to be. Abandoning the Clinton initiatives has brought us closer to nuclear war in Asia, which could spread to the US. Or, North Korea, which tends to sell anything it has on the black market, may sell nuclear weapons, or perhaps just components to terrorists or to other rogue regimes.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

All Holocaust All the Time 5

The NYT Book Review had the Holocaust on the cover for The Lost, but it also figured prominently in the review of Supermob. Rich Cohen, who wrote the Supermob review, has my number. He wrote:

The Holocaust bought the Jews 60 years of protection, six decades in which it was taboo to suggest that a Jewish conspiracy, with its dirty tentacles everywhere, had the system in its grip. After news of the camps spread across America, the Ivy League colleges relaxed quotas, the white-shoe firms started hiring, the country clubs let Jews on the greens. People suddenly realized that if, in less than a decade, the Jewish members of the most sophisticated society in the world could be isolated, stripped of property and killed en masse, perhaps they had not been so powerful after all.
Well, 60 years are up.
So here we go!

Hey, this is what George Allen was banking on when he became Jewish to avoid being called a racist.

On the continuing omnipresence of the Holocaust itself, the review of The Lost has an interesting comment:
Consider, for example, his commentary on the commentaries on the story of Lot’s wife, who was warned not to look back on the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Of course she does turn around and is turned into a pillar of salt. Mendelsohn believes sages like Rashi and other commentators miss the emotional appeal and peril of the backward glance. But Mendelsohn sees the episode as a warning that “regret for what we have lost, for the pasts we have to abandon, often poisons any attempt to make a new life.” For those compelled to look “back at what has been, rather than forward into the future,” he writes, “the great danger is tears, the unstoppable weeping that the Greeks ... knew was not only a pain but a narcotic pleasure, too: a mournful contemplation so flawless so crystalline, that it can, in the end, immobilize you.”
It’s a sentiment that can seem like a challenge to his entire enterprise. But Mendelsohn also seems to suggest that we can’t look forward until we look back, until we know how we came to be who we are — until we know what we have lost. He tries to look back — to see the horror of annihilation — through the eyes of the single family he has brought back to life.
But maybe Genesis had it right. Maybe you should look forward instead of back. If so, then today's Jews risk being turned into a giant pillar of salt. The thrust of both of these comments is that some Jews are getting the message that it's time to move on from the Holocaust, but they are having a hard time doing it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

All Holocaust All the Time 4

When Senator George Allen got in trouble for calling an Asian Indian "macaca," his response was, "Holocaust! You can't accuse me of being racist because I'm a Jew!" According to the Washington Post, it turns out that Allen's mother is Jewish, making his half Jewish, or perhaps according to Jewish law fully Jewish. But he says he is still going to eat ham sandwiches. However, he is trying to insulate himself from charges of racism by instantly becoming a minority, and a persecuted one at that.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dostoevsky on Bush

In Crime and Punishment, Dostoevsky's lead character, Raskolnikov explains his theory of how some people are above the law. Apparently Bush and Cheney believe they are examples of Raskolnikov's "extraordinary" men to whom ordinary laws do not apply. Dostoevsky says:

There are certain persons who ... have a perfect right to commit breaches of morality and crimes, and ... the law is not for them....

Extraordinary men have a right to commit any crime and to transgress the law in any way, just because they are extraordinary....

I maintain in my [Raskolnikov's] article that all ... well legislators and leaders of men, such as Lycurgus, Solon, Mahomet, Napoleon, and so on, were all without exception criminals, from the very fact that, making a new law, they transgressed the ancient one, handed down from their ancestors and held sacred by the people, and they did not stop short at bloodshed either, if that bloodshed -- often of innocent persons fighting bravely in defense of ancient law -- were of use to their cause. It's remarkable, in fact, that the majority, indeed, of these benefactors and leaders of humanity were guilty of terrible carnage. (Barnes & Noble Collector's Library, p. 350)
George Bush certainly seems to claim membership in this league of extraordinary individuals who can shed blood with legal impunity.

The Pope would probably agree with Raskolnikov's comments about Mahomet, but if Dostoevsky were to write this today, he might set off riots throughout the Muslim world.

Incompetent Military

Asia Times has a good article about the decline in standards of the US military. This country is led by men who refused to fight and avoided the draft during Vietnam -- Bush, Cheney, and many Congressmen and Senators, excluding of course, McCain, Hegel, Warner, and a minority of others who did serve.

Without a draft and with a bunch of cowardly bullies leading the nation, enlistments in the military by high quality individuals has dropped to almost nothing. As a result, the new soldier is likely to be poorly educated, out of shape, prone to crime, etc. And although this article does not dwell on it, except to note a white supremacist tendency, largely white and Christian. The only counter to this tendency is the attempt to recruit aliens. Basically, it's the best military our trailer parks and slums can produce.

We need a draft quickly and one big enough to add significant manpower to the military, enabling it to increase the US presence in Iraq significantly.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wolfowitz in Trouble at World Bank

The NYT reports that Paul Wolfowitz is coming under criticism for his leadership at the World Bank. The main gripe, according to the article, is his crusade against corruption, but underlying that gripe is also dislike of the fact that he was the leader of the Iraq war hawks and brought many of his Pentagon cronies with him to the World Bank.

I think Wolfowitz ought to get the boot from the World Bank, even if he appears to be following in the footsteps of his Vietnam war predecessor, Robert McNamara. If they can get rid of him because of this corruption campaign, great, as long as they get him. But they probably won't.

Herbert on "The Stranger in the Mirror"

Bob Herbert's NYT column on "The Stranger in the Mirror" captures well the moral black hole at the center of Bush's policies, which was picked up by Colin Powell in his letter to the Senate regarding treatment of prisoners. Among other things, Herbert says:
There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale....

The character of the U.S. has changed. We’re in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, many “have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention.”

Even fewer care.

Brooks On Bush Failures

David Brooks' column on "Ends without Means" cuts both ways on Bush's administration. He seems to say that W has the "vision thing" that his father, 41, lacked, but W doesn't have the means to carry out the vision, in Iraq in particular, but in other areas as well. On the PBS Newshour, Brooks seemed to be less supportive of Bush than he normally is. For example, he said:
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I would say it's something about the political situation here, mostly on the Republican side. You have a lot of Republicans who believed in the war at the start and who have hung with Bush and with the war while growing increasingly depressed over these three years. And now you're beginning to see a lot of them say it's irreparably lost.

Friday, September 15, 2006

All Holocaust All the Time 3

Just another reminder of the omnipresence of the Holocaust. The Washington Post (and many others) report the ordination of the first rabbis in Germany since World War II. You'd think this would no longer be news, 60 years after the war. The war is no longer news, but the Holocaust is.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

NYT on Income Inequality

The NYT editorializes that the latest 4.9% blip in labor costs was caused by increases in executives' fat bonuses and stock options, not increases in workers' wages and salaries. Meanwhile, letters to the editor comment on David Brooks' "Populist Myths on Income Inequality," one saying, " listen to Mr. Brooks and his 'let's get skills' message. Mr. Krugman's message of 'let's get 'em' will lead only to further social polarization."

The problem is that if income inequality is not related to education, more education won't help. Some good paying jobs do require education -- engineer, pilot, journalist, professor. But the jobs that pay the really big bucks -- corporate CEO, entrepreneur -- don't require that much education. Bill Gates never finished college. The big bucks jobs that are producing the income inequality require greed, not education. Better education, especially for high school dropouts, might keep some people from sinking below the poverty level, but it's not going to cure income inequality caused by corporate chieftans who keep the bulk of the profits for themselves and don't share with their employees. For that you need government policies like progressive taxation of income and estate taxes, forcing them to share the wealth.

When progressive tax rates were really high -- 75 to 90% -- people complained that there was no incentive to earn more money. Then I thought that was bad, but now I'm not so sure. Maybe we should encourage the fat cats to go spend their ill gotten gains and let someone else start to earn the big bucks.

Monday, September 11, 2006

FT Right on Torture & Globalization

The Financial Times for last Friday was right on the evils of Bush's torture and of globalization. The editorial condemning Bush's use of torture says:

Five years after launching a war on terror that has undermined America's moral authority abroad -- and proved spectacularly counter-productive in the battle for hearts and minds in the Muslim world -- Mr. Bush seems to have learnt few lessons about why torture and martial law will not win this war for him. For the benefits of intelligence gleaned, if any, are ultimately outweighed by the damage to America's standing at home and abroad
And the op-ed by Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz, entitled "We have become rich countries of poor people," says:

Unfettered globalization actually has the potential to make many people in advanced industrial countries worse off, even if economic growth increases....

In the US, tax policies have become less progressive; the bulk of recent tax cuts went to the winners, those who had already benefited both from globalization and changes in technology....

The Scandinavian countries have shown there is another way. Investment in education and research and a strong safety net can lead to a more productive and competitive economy.
I hope David Brooks reads this Stiglitz op-ed. Brooks is for education, but not for a strong safety net. Stiglitz also says:
While economic theory predicted there would be losers from globalization, it also said that the winners could compensate the losers. Well-managed globalization can make everyone, or at least most, better off. This has not happened.
This implies that for globalization to work humanely, business leaders, CEOs and others, should take some responsibility for their workers. In my earlier comment on Brooks' column, I said that after the depression and World War II, business leaders who had been through those trials tended to feel a responsibility toward their "troops." They had a shared experience that we no longer have. One downside of our diverse culture is that there is little that we share. While there are charitable impulses to help the downtrodden, there is not the shared feeling that we are all in this together, rich and poor. In business today, it's every man (or woman) for himself (or herself).

Get Wolfowitz Out of World Bank

The Financial Times has it right in criticizing Paul Wolfowitz' performance at the World Bank. It does not call for his removal, but I think that is the best way to improve the bank. Why should the US put a war criminal in to head it up? The FT says:
The Financial Times hoped that Mr Wolfowitz might pleasantly surprise his critics, but his first year at the World Bank was not a success. Surrounding himself with a coterie of advisers from his Pentagon days, he has failed to set a new direction for the bank. His obsessive anti-corruption drive is not a development strategy. The World Bank's complexity - and the complexity of its mission - demand that he now shows some leadership.
I think it is time for him to go. He should never have been there in the first place.

Iraq's Anbar Province Is Lost

The Washington Post reports that the Marines have concluded that Iraq's Anbar province is lost. Why have Bush and Cheney thrown our troops into this losing meatgrinder of a war? As Tom Friedman says, it they were going to fight this war, why didn't they commit enough resources to win?

Five Years after 9/11 & Six Years after the Presidental Debates

Are we better off five years after 9/11? Yes, airline security is better, not much, but a little. That's it. Maybe the LA Times is right, and we are worse off.

The war in Iraq has probably lessened our security, but as Bush says, most of the fighting is over there. Bush loves killing soldiers in Iraq. He wouldn't go to Vietnam, nor would Cheney, but they think it's great to order somebody else to die for America. I watched Cheney yesterday on "Meet the Press," and I believe he is either totally cynical or actually out of touch with reality. Perhaps all that matters to Bush and Cheney is helping out their rich friends. 9/11 interfered with that, but not much. Tax cuts for the rich went ahead as planned. Some of the rich people he helped will look after Bush in his old age. Cheney will gain enough from Halliburton's war profiteering to take care of him and his family in fine style for the rest of his life.

Look at what Bush said in his 2000 debate with Al Gore:
BUSH: Well, I think they ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom where it doesn't matter who you are or how you're raised or where you're from, that you can succeed. I don't think they'll look at us with envy. It really depends upon how our nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we're an arrogant nation, they'll resent us. If we're a humble nation, but strong, they'll welcome us. And it's -- our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power, and that's why we have to be humble. And yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. So I don't think they ought to look at us in any way other than what we are. We're a freedom-loving nation and if we're an arrogant nation they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation they'll respect us.

Yet, Bush has been the most arrogant President in recent history. His arrogance has alienated almost all of America's traditional allies. He should listen to what he said six years ago. Although he did give hints of what was to come:
I want everybody to know should I be the president Israel's going to be our friend. I'm going to stand by Israel. Secondly, that I think it's important to reach out to moderate Arab nations, like Jordan and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. It's important to be friends with people when you don't need each other so that when you do there's a strong bond of friendship. And that's going to be particularly important in dealing not only with situations such as now occurring in Israel, but with Saddam Hussein. The coalition against Saddam has fallen apart or it's unraveling, let's put it that way. The sanctions are being violated. We don't know whether he's developing weapons of mass destruction. He better not be or there's going to be a consequence should I be the president. But it's important to have credibility and credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resoluting your determination. One of the reasons why I think it's important for this nation to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East if need be to keep the peace is to be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don't dare threaten our friends. It's also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East, credible ties, because of the energy crisis we're now in. After all, a lot of the energy is produced from the Middle East, and so I appreciate what the administration is doing. I hope to get a sense of should I be fortunate to be the president how my administration will react to the Middle East.
So he warned us that Saddam Hussein was already at the top of his agenda, and that he was joined at the hip with Israel. But what about military commitments. Here's what Bush said:

MODERATOR: You said in the Boston debate, Governor, on this issue of nation building, that the United States military is overextended now. Where is it overextended? Where are there U.S. military that you would bring home if you become president?

BUSH: First let me just say one comment about what the vice president said. I think one of the lessons in between World War I and World War II is we let our military atrophy. And we can't do that. We've got to rebuild our military. But one of the problems we have in the military is we're in a lot of places around the world. And I mentioned one, and that's the Balkans. I would very much like to get our troops out of there. I recognize we can't do it now, nor do I advocate an immediate withdrawal. That would be an abrogation of our agreement with NATO. No one is suggesting that. But I think it ought to be one of our priorities to work with our European friends to convince them to put troops on the ground. And there is an example. Haiti is another example. Now there are some places where I think -- you know, I've supported the administration in Columbia. I think it's important for us to be training Columbians in that part of the world. The hemisphere is in our interest to have a peaceful Columbia. But --

MODERATOR: The use of the military, there -- some people are now suggesting that if you don't want to use the military to maintain the peace, to do the civil thing, is it time to consider a civil force of some kind that comes in after the military that builds nations or all of that? Is that on your radar screen?

BUSH: I don't think so. I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I'm missing something here. I mean, we're going to have kind of a nation building core from America? Absolutely not. Our military is meant to fight and win war. That's what it's meant to do. And when it gets overextended, morale drops. I strongly believe we need to have a military presence in the peninsula, not only to keep the peace in the peninsula, but to keep regional stability. And I strongly believe we need to keep a presence in NATO, but I'm going to be judicious as to how to use the military. It needs to be in our vital interest, the mission needs to be clear, and the extra strategy obvious.

"When it [the military] gets overextended, morale drops." Did Bush really say this? Does he remember it? In the third debate, Bush was again asked about the military. He said:
BUSH: If this were a spending contest, I would come in second. I readily admit I'm not going to grow the size of the federal government like he is. Your question was deployment. It must be in the national interests, must be in our vital interests whether we ever send troops. The mission must be clear. Soldiers must understand why we're going. The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined. I'm concerned that we're overdeployed around the world. See, I think the mission has somewhat become fuzzy. Should I be fortunate enough to earn your confidence, the mission of the United States military will be to be prepared and ready to fight and win war. And therefore prevent war from happening in the first place. There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often. The Vice President mentioned my view of long-term for the military. I want to make sure the equipment for our military is the best it can possibly be, of course. But we have an opportunity -- we have an opportunity to use our research and development capacities, the great technology of the United States, to make our military lighter, harder to find, more lethal. We have an opportunity, really, if you think about it, if we're smart and have got a strategic vision and a leader who understands strategic planning, to make sure that we change the terms of the battlefield of the future so we can keep the peace. This is a peaceful nation, and I intend to keep the peace. Spending money is one thing. But spending money without a strategic plan can oftentimes be wasted. First thing I'm going to do is ask the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan so we are making sure we're not spending our money on political projects, but on projects to make sure our soldiers are well-paid, well-housed, and have the best equipment in the world.
Under Bush, the Federal Government has grown enormously, enough to shame the big-spending Democrats. And the military is bogged down in a meatgrinder of a counter-insurgency peace keeping mission in Iraq, just the thing that Bush promised to keep us out of.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

David Brooks on Our Wonderful Slave Economy

David Brooks writes today in the NYT that our economy properly rewards those with the best skills. What's missing from his analysis is any questioning of whether it is best for those who can earn so much more than others to do so.

I think the Depression and service in World War II may have been a great leveler. CEOs in the 50s might have been able to earn as big a differential over their workers as CEOs do today, but they didn't. They were concerned about their "troops." They were pressured by labor unions, which were much more powerful than they are today, but I think they also had some moral considerations. There was a feeling of having been through a lot together. They thought that if it was possible to provide it, workers should have decent health care, enough money to buy a home, to take care of their kids, etc.

Now it's every man (or woman) for themselves. There is no more concern about the troops. This uncaring attitude does work. The world had slavery for thousands of years, from Old Testament Bible days, through the Roman empire up to the American Civil War. A lot of people were very prosperous. Look at the remaining ante-bellum mansions in the South. It wasn't economics that ended slavery.

So, Brooks' argument that today's management bonanza is good economics ignores the issue of whether it is good social policy. It's the job of government to keep society from getting too out of whack. But today, "government" is largely in the employ of K Street, aka, big business. We may drift back to a society more akin to the old days of slave ownership, where illegal immigrants most closely approximate the slaves of old, but someday decency will prevail, either when CEOs become more moral, or when there is rebellion by the latter day slaves and serfs against their billionaire masters.

For the record, I am a hard liner on immigration. Business likes illegal immigrants because it can treat them like slaves. But the answer to me is not to grant liberal benefits to them; it is to make them come legally, and then grant liberal benefits, like health care and social security, to those who come legally. Don't let them in unless they come legally.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

All Holocaust All The Time 2

I just praised Sumner Redstone for working for the US against Japan by breaking Japanese codes during World War II. That's still good, but now, in his picture on the business page of the NYT, what does the background say? "Simon Wiesenthal Center."

I guess they should be grateful. Almost every rich Jew owes his money to Hitler. If it hadn't been for Hitler, there would have been no Holocaust. Without the Holocaust, there would have been no Israel. And Jews would not have benefited in other ways from the sympathy. Any time a Jew is accused of anything, the immediate cry is, "Holocaust! Anti-Semitism!" And the Anglos back down. Without Hitler, many Jews would still be living in rural Poland, Ukraine, or Belarus, if it hadn't been for Holocaust. So, Redstone and his fellow Jewish billionaires owe their billions to the poor Jews who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and the other death camps. But I do get tired of hearing about it.

When I grew up in Alabama, we used to celebrate Confederate Memorial Day, which arguably is the same sort of thing -- a holiday remembering those who died for a lost cause. But it wasn't on the front page of the NYT every other day. It was more a family thing. Israel should thank the Holocaust for its existence, but why do we, the United States, have a Holocaust memorial on the National Mall when as far as I know, no American citizens died in the Holocaust. Have a memorial to Jewish war veterans? Sure. But the Holocaust museum is to some extent anti-American, because it criticizes Roosevelt (implicitly or explicitly) for not invading Europe sooner to shut down the concentration camps.

FT Supports Walt and Mearsheimer

Just to try to support my position as not being too racist, the Financial Times supports Walt and Mearsheimer's efforts to call attention to the influence of the Israeli lobby. The Israeli lobby plays a major role in many foreign policy issues and deserves to be examined.

Afghanistan Down the Tubes Too

The US appears to be foundering in Afghanistan almost at the same level it is foundering in Iraq. The New York Times ran a huge article about America's failures in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, while the Financial Times ran three separate articles on Tuesday about how badly the war (or the reconstruction) is going there, a front page article and two opinion pieces.

One of the main problems is that Afghanistan is reverting to its poppy growing heroin ways under Taliban influence. It's ironic that Afghanistan finally began to break its reliance on heroin under a Taliban government that ruthlessly punished heroin trafficking, but now that the Taliban is on the outside, it is encouraging opium production.

The other problem is the breakdown in security, as in Iraq. This is due mainly to the Bush administration's failure to commit enough military force to do the job, as in Iraq. Now NATO is taking over the military job, and is paying the price for the American failures.

Adding to the problems in Afghanistan, and to Bush's lack of credibility on terrorism issues, is Pakistan's decision to keep hands off Osama bin Laden, who presumably is in western Pakistan.

Monday, September 04, 2006

How Serious Is The Terrorist Threat?

USA Today reports that prosecutions for terrorist acts are down. Either there is not much of a terrorist threat, or the US Government is not finding it.

The first article in the current Foreign Affairs magazine argues that the terrorist threat to the US has been overblown. The summary of the article is:

Despite all the ominous warnings of wily terrorists and imminent attacks, there has been neither a successful strike nor a close call in the United States since 9/11. The reasonable -- but rarely heard -- explanation is that there are no terrorists within the United States, and few have the means or the inclination to strike from abroad.
President Bush is probably truly scared. I think he is a coward. He was asleep at the switch and allowed the 9/11 attacks to occur. They could have been prevented by slightly better airport security. All this Homeland Security TSA nonsense is largely irrelevant. It has helped prevent hijackings, but so would have slightly beefed up security of the pre-9/11 variety.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

All Holocaust All the Time

Two recent articles point out how the press and the business/legal world is all Holocaust all the time. The Financial Times reports that Jews are suing the French railway SNCF for transporting Jews to concentration camps during World War II. Apparently one case has already been won Alain Lipietz.

The New York Times reports that a Jewish artist who painted Gypsies at Auschwitz wants her paintings back, which are currently on display at the prison camp museum in Poland. What is interesting about this is that Gypsies, whom she painted, went thought the same Holocaust, but have in general suffered much more since then than the Jews, who like Ms. Babbitt have become upper or middle class, while the Gypsies remain mired in poverty. (See, for example, this FT article on the Roma (Gypsies) of Slovakia.) Why should Ms. Babbitt profit more from painting these Gypsies than the Gypsies who served as her models under Dr. Mengele's orders. She cooperated with Dr. Mengele in portraying what was to Dr. Mengele the Gypsies' racial inferiority. Shouldn't the poor Gypsies get some kind of war reparations against her instead of her getting something from Poland?

Her position raises indirectly a question that bothers me: What did the Jews, who now scream "Holocaust!" at the top of their lungs do to stop it? What percentage of Jews fought in combat in Europe to free to prison camps. I have a cousin in Alabama (a Christian, redneck state) who took part in liberating a concentration camp in Germany. How many American Jews in the military liberated their brother Jews from these prisons? My impression is that many of them (e.g., Roosevelt's Treasury Secretary Morganthau) leaned on Roosevelt to send more Christian soldiers to die liberating Jews, while they stayed behind to profit from the war.

Certainly Israel would not have been created had it not been for the Holocaust, which Jews used as an argument for the state's creation. They had been trying for years to create Israel, and the Holocaust was what made their previous unsuccessful efforts, ultimately successful.

I'd like to know prominent Jews today asked their fathers, "What did you do in the war daddy to save Jews from the Holocaust?" What did Robert Rubin's father do? What did Stuart Eizenstat's father do? What did Sandy Weil's father do? What did Haim Saban's father do? What did Martin Indyk's father do? What did Sen. Schumer's father do? What did Raum Emanuel's father (or grandfather) do?

An exception, Sumner Redstone, worked breaking Japanese codes during WW II. Hooray for him! Sen. Spector's father served in WW I. Good for him!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Did Richard Armitage Leak Valerie Plame's Name?

Update: The NYT reports that Armitage has admitted that he was Novak's source.

It seems more and more likely that Colin Powell's deputy at State, Richard Armitage, leaked Valerie Plame's name to Robert Novak, as Political Animal says. Richard Armitage seems to be a straight shooter, which would justify Novak's comment that his source was not a partisan gun slinger. However, if that's the case, why hasn't Armitage come forward? Novak called for his source to identify himself last week on "Meet the Press."

It's possible that Armitage did not leak Plame's name, but only mentioned something about Amb. Joe Wilson's wife. Then Novak may have looked up Joe Wilson in Who's Who, where I think Wilson's wife is listed as Valerie Plame.

It seems likely that Armitage is cooperating with Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald on the Plame case, and thus may be a witness when Scooter Libby's case comes to trial, but we may not know before then.

How Reliable Are Productivity Estimates?

Reporting on the Federal Reserve retreat in Jackson Hole, the Financial Times said:
Gene Grossman, a professor at Princeton, offered the central bankers a new way of thinking about the problem [of globalization's downward pressure on most wages], which paints offshoring in a more positive light. He argued that we should think about trade not as an exchange of good but an "exchange of tasks". If some tasks that used to be performed onshore are offshored to lower-cost locations, the result will be an increase in the productivity and wages of workers who perform related tasks that cannot easily be offshored.

Analysis of the US from 1997 to 2004 suggests this positive productivity effect could outweigh the negative labor supply effect on wages in sectors where there had been a lot of offshoring. But it does not appear large enough to offset the broader negative effect on low-skilled wages arising from the ongoing fall in the relative price of labour-intensive goods.
Although even this analysis concludes that offshoring is a mixed blessing, to me it indicates the difficulty in separating offshoring from productivity estimates. I am inclined to believe that much of ex-Fed chair Greenspan's touting of productivity increases to account for the lack of inflationary pressure is really due to offshoring. For example, because of the lower wages, businesses can hire several foreigners for the salary of one American. They will produce more work (be more productive) for the same cost to the business. Thus, if you look at an income statement, it looks as if you get more output for the same input, but the only difference is that more work is being done overseas. Automation, computers, networking, etc., do make American workers more productive, but can you separate out those factors from offshoring? I don't think so, at least not well. All of which means that the only people benefiting from the increase in "productivity" are those at the top of the pyramid, CEOs and a handful of senior executives. The average workers suffer, not only the "low-skilled" mentioned by Grossman.

Interestingly, the article below this one in the FT is "Flows that slip through statisticians' hands."

Monday, August 28, 2006

How Far Back Should Jewish Claims Go?

I am not a big fan of changing ownership of items after many years have passed. It's true that some people ended up with assets unjustly, but it's not clear to me that their heirs, or the people that they sold the assets to, should lose the items unless they themselves engaged in some dishonest behavior. There should be some kind of a statute of limitations, and now that World War II ended more than 60 years ago, the statute of limitations should have run. We should pick up from here and move on.

The main argument against this is the Holocaust, which arguably was so terrible, that it, like murder, should have no statute of limitations. If that's the case, then I would argue that you should go all the way back. Look at how some of these wealthy Jews who are recovering property lost in World War II acquired that property in the first place. Did they acquire it in a totally honest, legal, moral way? If so, let it go to their heirs. If not, then undo the illegal or immoral transactions, even if you have to go back to the 16th or 17th century, and give the title to the heirs of whoever was the last moral title holder.

This would not apply to payments to ordinary people who are getting a few thousand dollars decades after suffering in concentration camps. It would apply to multimillion dollar settlements that are being fought in court. If the fortune originally came from profits from the slave trade, or exploitation of colonial peoples, for example, then don't undo the last 50 years of transactions.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Pyrrhic Victory on Lebanon Truce

Washington (Condi Rice and John Bolton) succeeded in getting a UN resolution on ending the Lebanon war that was acceptable to the US and Israel. However, it is not acceptable to many other countries, hence the difficulty getting other countries (like France) to commit troops. If nobody will commit troops, then the peace agreement will fail. Maybe we want it to; that will let Israel try again to destroy Hezbollah. But if they didn't do it the first time, they may not do any better the second try.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Friedman Is Right on Iraq

Tom Friedman is exactly right in today's NYT: If Iraq is such an important war, as Cheney and company claim, why didn't they fight it like they meant it, instead of trying to do it on the cheap.

I agree with Tom Friedman frequently, as I do with a lot of Jews. The problem is Israel. For too many Jewish Americans, Israel is more important that America. Perhaps Friedman is not so caught up in that because he spent so much time in Lebanon earlier in his career. But there are others. I was not a fan of James Wolfensohn at the World Bank, but in retirement, he stood up for the Palestinians, despite being Jewish. He is like Amb. Martin Indyk, an immigrant from Australia, but I think Wolfensohn made his mark regardless of being Jewish, while Indyk was picked to be US Ambassador to Israel, and now senior honcho at Brookings, because he is Jewish. When I was in the Foreign Service, I always suspected people who specialized in their country of origin, whether Polish-Americans who went back to serve in Poland, Italian-Americans who went back to serve in Italy, Jews who went to Israel, or whatever. In some cases that nationality connection leads to hatred instead of love of the old fatherland; many of the Russian emigree Soviet experts in the old Cold War days were the most rabid anti-Soviets. Therefore, I don't think my problem is with Jews per se, but with Israel, and Jews who feels a very strong allegiance to Israel, in many cases surpassing their allegiance to the US.

Israel definitely needs to clean up its act, unless it wants to be regarded as just another third world country like Uganda or Paraguay.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fiasco - Tom Ricks on Iraq

Tom Ricks book Fiasco starts off with criticism of the politicians who started the Iraq war, but in the middle (which is as far as I have gotten) mainly focuses on the failures of the military, particularly the Army, to prosecute the war correctly. Despite my experience as draftee in the Vietnam war, I sympathize with the Army, which still does most of the real fighting, followed by the Marines. But Ricks focuses primarily on the failures of the senior generals, rather than the troops in the field. It sounds like Vietnam, where arguably we won all the battles but lost the war because of failures of the politicians and the senior military leadership.

A very odd parallel with Vietnam is that Vietnam-era Secretary of Defense McNamara went to head up the World Bank, and Iraq-era Deputy Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz followed in his footsteps. What does America have against the World Bank?

Anyway, some points in Fiasco that caught my attention:

p. 30: "Perle and Wolfowitz quickly began [after 9/11] to make the case that 9/11 was precipitated by a myopic and false realism that wrongly had sought accommodation with evil. 'The idea that we could live with another 20 years of stagnation in the Middle East that breeds ... terrorism is ... just unacceptable...,' Wolfowitz later told the Jerusalem Post." Interestingly, Perle was one of the owners/editors of the Jerusalem Post. Why should two "Americans" be talking about American policy to the Jerusalem Post? What's wrong with American papers. Americans should not be making policy through Israel.

p. 49: Cheney lies to the Veterans of Foreign Wars about WMD. He said, "'There is no doubt' that Iraq possessed ... WMD." "In retrospect, the speech was even more stunning than it appeared then, because it has become clear with the passage of time that it constructed a case that was largely false."

p. 50: One of Ricks' sources appears to be Gen. Zinni. He says that Zinni liked and thought he agreed with Cheney from Cheney's days as Defense Secretary during Gulf War I. Zinni was at Cheney's VFW speech. Ricks says of Zinni, "He couldn't figure out the change in Cheney.... 'When he [Cheney] sort of got tied up and embraced all this, it seemed out of character, it really confused me.' What he didn't know then was that Cheney had changed -- perhaps because he knew the Bush administration hadn't performed well in heeding warnings before 9/11, or perhaps because of his heart ailments, which can alter a person's personality." I would add the possibility that Cheney's job as CEO of Halliburton may have changed him, either the big money, or something in the water in Texas which seems to have corrupted many in the Bush administration. Cheney is now a Texan, despite some questionably legal device to claim he lived in Wyoming, so that he could run for Vice-President with Bush.

p. 53: "Richard Perle's influence in the events leading up to war likely has been overstated. At the time the chairman of the Defense Policy Board, he also seems to have wielded some influence with the office of Vice President Cheney. Perle's main role, at least in public, seems to have been the one willing to be quoted in the media, saying in public what his more discreet allies in the Bush administration, such as I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, would say to reporters only on background."

p. 64: "In October, the Atlantic Monthly, which would do an exemplary job in posing the right questions about Iraq both before and after the invasion, carried a clarion call by James Fallows titled 'The Fifty-first State?' Fallows began by explicitly rejecting the analogy to the 1930s on which Wolfowitz so relied. 'Nazi and Holocaust analogies have a trumping power in many arguments, and their effect in Washington was to make doubters seem weak -- Neville Chamberlains, versus the Winston Churchills [see recent David Brooks column in the NYT] who were ready to face the truth,' he wrote. But 'I ended up thinking that the Nazi analogy paralyzes the debate about Iraq rather than clarifying it.' Yes, Saddam was brutal. But Iraq was hardly a great power.... The US military had been confronting it and containing it successfully for over a decade. So, Fallows said,.... 'If we had to choose a single analogy to govern our thinking about Iraq, my candidate would be World War I.'" [My view is that WW I is also an apt analogy for the recent Israel-Lebanon war. In any case, the Holocaust connection shows that there is a uniquely Jewish component to the Iraq war.]

p. 73: Ricks has a low opinion of Jerry Bremer's job as American pro-consul in Iraq. Discussing the findings of a pre-war conference, Ricks says, "They specifically advised against the two major steps that Amb. Bremer would pursue in 2003.... The Iraqi army should be kept intact because it could serve as a unifying force in a country that could fall apart under US control.... They likewise were explicit in warning against the sort of top-down 'de-Baathification' that Bremer would mandate. Rather, they recommended following the example of the US authorities in post-World War II Germany."

p. 77: Ricks points out the strong role the Holocaust played in the thinking of the key characters, many of whom were Jewish. "For Feith, as for Wolfowitz, the Holocaust -- and the mistakes the West made appeasing Hitler in the 1930s, rather than stopping him -- became a keystone in thinking about policy. Like Wolfowitz, [Douglas] Feith came from a family devastated by the Holocaust. His father lost both parents, three brothers, and four sisters to the Nazis. 'My family got wiped out by Hitler, and ... all this stuff about working things out -- well talking to Hitler to resolve the problem didn't make any sense to me,' Feith later told Jeffrey Goldberg of the New Yorker in discussing how World War II had shaped his views."

p. 89: I agree with Ricks that Rumsfeld's two choices to head up the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Generals Myers and Pace, have been real losers. About Myers, Ricks says, "Congress faced an unusually strong secretary of defense and an unusually weak chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Myers ... seemed an incurious man, and certainly not one to cross a superior.... Inside the military, he was widely regarded as the best kind of uniformed yes-man -- smart, hard working, but wary of independent thought. The vice chairman [now chairman], Pace was seen as even more pliable, especially by fellow Marines."

p. 99: Discussing Gen. Eric Shinseki's controversial testimony to Congress that hundreds of thousands of troops would be necessary to occupy Iraq, Ricks quotes Andrew Bacevich: "Shinseki was offering a last-ditch defense of military tradition that Wolfowitz was intent on destroying, a tradition that saw armies as fragile, that sought to husband military power, and that classified force as an option of last resort." "That subtext about the nature of military force and the wisdom of using it in Iraq may have been one reason the effects of the exchange between Shinseki and Wolfowitz were so far reaching." Ricks quotes an unnamed senior general as saying, "The people around the president were so, frankly, intellectually arrogant.... They knew that postwar Iraq would be easy and would be a catalyst for change in the Middle East. They were making simplistic assumptions and refused to put them to the test.... These are educated men, they are smart men. But they are not wise men."

p. 101: On February 21 and 22, 2003, the original nominee to be American pro-consul in Iraq, retired general Jay Garner, held a meeting on postwar Iraq. The attendants included "Abram Shulsky from Feith's policy office in the Pentagon, Elliot Abrams from the National Security Council, Eric Edelman and others from Cheney's office," in other words a good contingency of Jews. However, Ricks says, "Of all those speaking those two days, one person in particular caught Garner's attention.... 'There was this one guy who knew everything, everybody,a nd he kept on talking.'" The man was Tom Warrick from the State Department, where he headed a project called the Future of Iraq. Garner asked Warrick to come work for him, but Ricks continues, "Garner, a straightforward old soldier, didn't realize that he had walked into the middle of a running fued between the State Department and the Defense Department.... Apparently there was some sort of ideological test they [Warrick and other State employees] had failed, but it was all very mysterious to Garner, even to the extent of exactly who was administering the exam." Soon Rumsfeld told Garner he had to get rid of the State people. "Garner then had one of his staffers call around national security circles in the government to find out what was going on. 'He was told the word had come from Cheney.'"

p. 120: Ricks says that criticism of Iraq war deployments from senior military veterans got under JCS chairman Myers skin. "He was in the difficult position of being a career pilot and Air Force officer responding to the views of men who had been senior commanders in ground combat."

p. 136: I thought the looting that followed the Americans' arrival in Baghdad was awful, and that Rumsfeld's "Stuff happens!" remark was atrocious. I was glad to see that Ricks says it had consequences: "Rumsfeld's fundamental misunderstanding of the looting in Iraq, and the casual manner in which he expressed it, not only set back US forces tactically, but also damaged the strategic standing of the United States, commented Fred Ikle, who had been the Penatagon's policy chief during the Reagan administration.... He wrote, 'America lost most of its prestige and respect in that episode. To pacify a conquered country, the victor's prestige and dignity is absolutely critical.' This criticism was leveled by a man who not only had impeccable credentials in conservative national security circles, but actually had brought Wolfowitz to Washington from Yale during the Nixon administration."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Another Failed War Effort

The New Yorker magazine reports that the US was heavily involved in helping Israel plan its attacks on Hezbollah before the war started last month. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the US got frantically busy organizing the Mid-East ceasefire on the Israel-Lebanon border after it became clear that Israel was failing to remove Hezbollah from the border area. Therefore, it appears that the US plan to eliminate Hezbollah by airpower alone did not work, and even using significant numbers of Israeli ground troops did not work.

If Seymour Hersh is right and this border war was a preparatory war for a US invasion of Iran, it's good we found it did not work. In some ways the Spanish Civil War was a preparatory war for World War II. The question is, did the neo-cons who want to invade Iran -- Cheney and company -- learn from the Israel-Lebanon war, or not?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Cowardly Response to Terror

NBC reports that the US and Britain disagreed over the timing to arrest the plotters to blow up aircraft flying from the UK to the US. Britain wanted to wait for the plotters to take some overt action; the US wanted to act immediately. Britain wanted to catch the plotters in the act. The US was afraid to wait. The British judicial system requires real evidence; terrorist prosecutions in the US (or in Guantanamo) are star chamber persecutions, because the government is afraid to allow the guarantees to a fair trial provided in the Constitution. And the Bush administration is made up of cowards, who were afraid to confront the plotters. They are bullies who panicked when informed of the plot. Bush and Cheney were draft dodgers during Vietnam. The younger members of the administration are no better. It's a sad day for America!

Friday, August 11, 2006

How Should Israel Defend Itself?

Granted, Israel has a right to defend itself, a right that it has exercised many times since it was created after World War II. Israel has more or less won each of its battles for self preservation, the earlier ones more decisively than the later ones. Despite these victories, it still faces threats from without (Hezbollah) and within (Hamas). It might be in a much better position if it had been more magnanimous in victory as the US was after World War II, restoring both Germany and Japan to major power status. Israel seems doomed to repeat the West's mistakes in trying to keep Germany in subjection after World War I.

Israel might argue that it has recently tried to follow the WW II model by withdrawing from Gaza and Lebanon, and that this effort failed, as illustrated by the current war. I would argue that one or two years of positive effort may not be enough to offset fifty years of negative effort, and that the positive effort has not been enough. It has ignored the West Bank and Jerusalem, for example.

Some argue that Bush represents the Churchillian response to evil, exemplified in WW II by Nazi Germany. However, this view overlooks the possibility that Hitler would never have risen to power if the Allies had not imposed such strict terms on Germany after WW I. Arguably, since the Israelis have emulated the Versailles example, they are doomed to repeat their version of WW II. Maybe they have created their own mini-Hitlers in Muslim countries. If they have, unfortunately, these mini-Hitlers also target the US because of its unquestioning support of Israel. So, we will reap the whirlwind that Israel sowed, and that we fertilized in Iraq.

Pakistan Is Terrorist Hotbed

The recent arrests of some of the British skyjacking team in Pakistan points out the extent to which terrorists use Pakistan as a headquarters, not the least of whom is Osama bin Laden. If there is a connection to Al-Qaeda, as several reports suggest, then the US failure to capture bin Laden becomes a larger and larger failure. Bush needs to get on the stick and catch bin Laden before bin Laden strikes again. The Brits are doing a good job, but what is the US doing?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Brookings Saban Center Tax Cheat

The Brookings Institution "Saban Center" was named for Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who became a billionaire from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cartoons. Former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, an Australian, is the head of the center. Now the New York Times reports that Saban is one of the most flagrant billionaire tax cheats identified by the IRS.

Mel Gibson would probably agree with me that the Saban Center does not have America's best interests at heart. Brookings should register as a representative of a foreign government (Israel) if it has not already done so. The Democrats, who send many temporarily out of office officials to Brookings between Democratic administrations, should beware that they do not compromise their value. Now, every time I see a Brookings flunky on the PBS "Newshour" or "Meet the Press," I'll question their motives and their loyalty to the US.

Article on Dual Loyalty of DOD's Jews

Until I read this article, it had not occurred to me that Steve Bryen was Jewish. But it figures. He was one of Richard Perle's hangers-on at the Pentagon.

I guess there is a large group of people, President Bush included, who believe that Israel's and America's interests are identical. I don't think this is necessarily the case; we may have some interests in common, but there are issues where our interests diverge. The best example is the US descent into some kind of hell in Iraq as a result of following policies espoused by Israel. It's odd that American politicians seem happy to send Christian soldiers to die for Israeli interests in Iraq, and even odder that the Christian soldiers seem happy to die for Israel. Interestingly there are very few black or Hispanic soldiers, nor are there many from middle and upper class families. They mostly come from lower class, white backgrounds, probably from evangelical Christian backgrounds who believe Armageddon is coming in Israel.

I have been distressed that the PBS Newshour, which I usually think tries to be unbiased by having participants from different sides of an issue, has had almost (?) exclusively Jews to talk about the current Israeli war in Lebanon. First, they had Robert Malley and Amb. Martin Indyk, more recently they have had Aaron Miller and Michael Ruben. Aaron Miller was part of Dennis Ross' Middle East negotiating team formed by Secretary of State Jim Baker. I didn't know and didn't care until after I left State that they were all Jewish. Similarly, Richard Haass, the new head of the Council on Foreign Relations, who served at State, is Jewish. These people cannot be unbiased when the issue is Israel, because Israel is a Jewish state.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Will Israel Take Bush Down the Tubes?

Maybe joining itself at the hip with Israel will finally begin to work against the Bush administration. This article in the WP indicates it may, as does this article from the Christian Science Monitor. An article in yesterday's NYT, however, indicated that the confrontation may have some downsides for Iran, which would be a plus for Bush. In general, though, it looks like Iran is winning the battle for hearts and minds around the world. Bush is responsible for this, mainly by having poked his finger in everybody's eye around the world for the last five or six years, then by invading Iraq on false pretenses, and now by supporting Israel no matter what atrocities Israel commits.

It's true that Hezbollah is worse than Israel in terms of how it is fighting the war, but Israel is supposed to be a civilized country like the US, while Hezbollah gets a pass because it's a known terrorist group; so, everybody expects it to act like a terrorist group. People do not, and should not, expect the US and Israel to act like terrorists, although they have done so in Iraq and Lebanon. The US needs to return to its former law abiding self, and begin to treat Israel as it treats other countries.

Of course, the US position in support of Israel points out the fact that the administration has sold itself to big Jewish contributors, to AIPAC, and to evangelicals looking for the Rapture, who are poorer but vote in larger numbers for Republicans than rich Jews.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Would the Mid-East Be Different Without Israel?

Israel seems to be the focus of unrest in the Mid-East, as the Jewish state in midst of a sea of Arab and Muslim states. If it weren't there would the Middle East be calmer? Of course, we don't know, but probably not. Zionist Jews were fighting for the creation of the state of Israel for decades before it was created by the UN after World War II. Jews introduced terrorist tactics into the Middle East with the Stern Gang and other Jewish terrorist organizations. Their terrorism was mainly directed at Britain as the colonial power ruling the Palestine mandate. But Jewish terrorists were also responsible for killing the first UN envoy after the creation of the UN and Israel, because they so violently opposed his mission of looking into the possibility of a right of return for Arabs evicted from Israel.

If Israel had not been created, Jews would still be fighting in Palestine for the creation of a Jewish homeland. However, they would probably be the aggressors attacking Arab states instead of the current situation where Arabs attack the Jewish state created from formerly Arab land. But the fight long predated the creation of Israel and would no doubt be going on now because both groups want the same piece of land.

However, the Jews in the Middle East would probably not have nuclear weapons, F-16s with laser guided missiles, and other US supplied weapons if Israel did not exist.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Who Are We Supporting in Israel?

Why is the US more supportive of Israel than any other nation in the world? I feel like I am going to be called anti-Semitic for my concerns about Jewish influence on American foreign policy, but it is a problem. The article by Mearsheimer and Walt shows that my concerns are not unique.

There are at least three main kinds of Jews with differing views on Israel and American foreign policy. First there are the religious Jews, most of whom are also ethnic or racial Jews. Of course, they fall into different categories, too, from orthodox to reform. The closer they are to Orthodox, probably the more strongly Jews support Israel. Then there are secular Jews, Jews by race or ethnicity who are not religious. I understand that many of the Jews in Israel are secular Jews, although many others, particularly in the occupied territories are very religious. Finally there are the Zionists, Jews of all backgrounds who strongly support Israel.

Israel confuses the whole Jewish issue and the anti-Semitism argument. If you don't like Israel, many Jews take that as meaning that you don't like Jews, when that is not the case. When we lived in Poland, I thought Poland did a good job in discriminating between the Nazis and the Germans. They may not have been totally successful, but they tried to direct their dislike at the Nazis, rather than at all Germans. It should be possible to dislike or disapprove of a state, in particular because of its government and rulers, without disliking or disapproving of all the people who live there.

So, Jews who take disapproval of Israel as disapproval of all Jews take that weight on themselves. If that were true, it would mean that all Jews are loyal to Israel first, and then to whatever country they happen to live in, e.g., the U.S. I don't believe that all Jews are disloyal Americans, but rabid Zionists would have us believe that they are.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

No Arafat

One player missing from the current Middle East crisis is Arafat. Israel and the US couldn't wait to be rid of him. Israel kept him prisoner in his office for the last few years of his life, which may have shortened his life. But he could control the Palestinians better than anyone else when he wanted to. Abbas is not his successor. Although he holds the same position, he doesn't have the same power. If he were around there would be someone meaningful to negotiate with, although Bush and Olmert wouldn't talk to him.

Leo Strauss and the Neo-Cons

A recent New York Times Book Review article on a new book about Leo Strauss says that his conservative disciples who promoted the Iraq war as members of the Bush administration do not reflect his thinking. His neo-con disciples include Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, among others. (Perle has recently written an op-ed for the Washington Post and conducted an on-line discussion.)

They were among the most outspoken advocates of war with Iraq and had enormous power because they held important government positions or because they were well connected politically with senior administration officials. I don't know enough about Strauss' political philosophy to argue the point of whether he would have favored invading Iraq or not, but there is one element of his background in the review that is connected to Iraq: Strauss' embrace of Zionism. It may not be an accident that his disciples who were most ardent in arguing for war with Iraq were also Jewish. Perhaps the main thing they took from him that influenced their feelings about Iraq was his Zionism, rather than his political philosophy. Israel was a big promoter of the war with Iraq, just as it is now a big promoter of war with Iran. (While Israel is trying to get the US to go to war with Iran, it is engaged in its own war with Lebanon.)

Was it the Zionism of the influential Jews in the administration -- learned from or reinforced by Strauss -- which led them to lead the charge for war with Iraq? We'll probably never know, but it could well be. There certainly seems to be some link between Leo Strauss and the war.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rich Get Richer

All of the papers, including the NYT, report a rise in tax revenues that will reduce the budget deficit. It looks like the wealthy are getting wealthier.

The NYT reports:
Corporate tax payments are expected to exceed $300 billion, up from $131 billion three years ago. The other big increase is an extraordinary jump in individual taxes that were not withheld from paychecks, usually a reflection of taxes on investment income and executive bonuses.
So, the taxes are being paid by rich people who do not get paychecks, but get dividends, stock options, live off of their investments, etc.

We know that Bush's tax cuts predominately went to wealthy taxpayers; therefore, the tax revenues would have been even higher without the tax cuts. Bush, of course, claims that the increased income of rich people is due to his policies, but that's not clear. The fact that wage earners' incomes have not increased indicates that wages have not increased in sync with the dividends and capital gains received by the wealthy. Unemployment is around 4 percent, which is pretty close to full employment. With a booming economy at full employment, why is there no wage inflation? It's because of globalization. Manufacturing and services jobs are both being outsourced for much lower wages than those prevailing in the US. In addition, illegal immigrants tend to depress American wages even further for those jobs still remaining in the US. Because lower end wages are being kept so low, the upper end CEOs , other senior executives, and investors are reaping even greater profits, and thus paying more taxes. It is not because they are investing in America, creating new jobs, etc. They are profiting from the selling of America.