Thursday, October 30, 2003
US President George W. Bush has thanked Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan for Beijing's efforts to resolve the DPRK nuclear crisis.
How sweet. China is such a nice country; I'm so glad we are saying "please" and "thank you" to such a great, free, non-terrorist, helpful country.
By Paul Krugman
New York Times
Tuesday 28 October 2003
... According to The New York Times, President Bush was genuinely surprised to learn from moderate Islamic leaders that they had become deeply distrustful of American intentions. The report on the "perception gap" suggests that the leader of the war on terror has no idea how badly that war — which must, ultimately, be a war for hearts and minds — is going.
Mr. Bush's ignorance may reflect his lack of curiosity: "The best way to get the news," he says, "is from objective sources. And the most objective sources I have are people on my staff." Two words: emperor, clothes...
...Last week I found myself caught up in that struggle. I wrote about why Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's prime minister — a clever if loathsome man who adjusts the volume of his anti-Semitism depending on circumstances — chose to include an anti-Jewish diatribe in his speech to an Islamic conference. Sure enough, I was accused in various places not just of "tolerance for anti-Semitism" (yes, I'm Jewish) but of being in Mr. Mahathir's pay. Smear tactics aside, the thrust of the attacks was that because anti-Semitism is evil, anyone who tries to understand why politicians foment anti-Semitism — and looks for ways other than military force to combat the disease — is an apologist for anti-Semitism and is complicit in evil.
Yet that moral punctiliousness is curiously selective. Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet...
...Why is aiding a brutal dictator O.K., while trying to understand why others don't trust us — and doing something to create that trust — isn't? Why won't the administration mollify Muslims by firing Lt. Gen. William Boykin, whose anti-Islamic remarks have created vast ill will, from his counterterrorism position? Why won't it give moderate Muslims a better argument against the radicals by opposing Ariel Sharon's settlement policy, when a majority of Israelis think that some settlements should be abandoned, and even Israeli military officers have become bitterly critical of Mr. Sharon?
The answer is that in these cases politics takes priority over the war on terror. Moderate Muslims would have more faith in America's good intentions if there were at least the appearance of a distinction between the U.S. and the Sharon government — but the administration seeks votes from those who think that supporting Israel means supporting whatever Mr. Sharon does. It's sheer folly to keep General Boykin in his present position, but as Howard Fineman writes in a Newsweek Web-exclusive column, the administration doesn't want "to make a martyr of a man who depicts himself as a Christian Soldier, marching off to war."...
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
By Michael Howard
The Guardian UK
Monday 27 October 2003
The audacious attack on the Rashid hotel shows the "growing confidence, sophistication and creativity of anti-coalition militants in Iraq", an adviser on security matters to the US-led administration said yesterday.
"This attack was well-planned and executed. It seems that these guys, most of them former regime loyalists, are now networking with each other and perhaps outside agents, passing weapons and know-how," said the adviser. "They are operating in small groups, but you don't have to be big to be effective."
Most attacks happen in the Sunni-triangle region stretching north and west of Baghdad, he said, where pro-Saddam loyalists and anti-western Islamists are at their strongest. But recent weeks have seen coordinated attacks spread to the relatively tranquil north, to cities such as Kirkuk, Mosul and Irbil.
The ability of the Iraqi resistance to strike at will at the heart of the US-led administration in Baghdad is causing deep unease among American military commanders in Iraq, and political embarrassment for Bush administration officials who have repeatedly claimed that the coalition is winning the war against the guerrillas.
The barrage of rockets that slammed into the hotel was fired from a launcher positioned on a mobile generator. The attackers had fled the scene after being approached by Iraqi guards, who could do nothing to prevent the rockets from launching.
"It seems they have learned to attach fuses to timers, so that rockets fire long after they ran away," the security adviser said.
The array of weapons and devices used in the attacks on coalition targets, which number up to 35 a day, should come as no surprise, the adviser said. "The Iraqi army did not disarm, they just took off their uniforms and went home, along with their weapons."
He added: "There are many in the former Iraqi army who know how to use Katyusha rockets, and we believe they are getting instructions on car bombs from sympathetic terrorist organisations abroad."
Thursday 16 October 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) issued the following statement in opposition to the Bush Administration’s request for another $87 billion for Iraq.
“I am proud to join my colleagues, patriots all, to say no to another blank check for President Bush so he can continue his failed policy in Iraq. I am joining the growing number of Democrats and the majority of Americans who say that without accountability, without a plan, and without a guarantee that the troops will finally get what they need, we will not hand over $87 billion to the Bush Administration.
“The Bush Administration cannot be trusted to make our troops a priority, so how can we trust them with $87 billion? 40,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq are without flack jackets and others are traveling in non-armored Humvees and without jammers that block the signals between bombs and detonators. But billions of taxpayer dollars have been spent already on no bid contracts for major U.S. corporations like Halliburton and Bechtel for reconstruction efforts that Iraqis say can be performed for pennies on the dollar if given to local contractors.
“The Bush Administration betrayed the families of soldiers in Iraq, so how can we trust them with $87 billion? I, personally, have talked to mothers and relatives who are sending their soldiers huge packages every week that include items like sunscreen and insect repellant, shampoo, and sanitary napkins because the administration did not make plans to provide these items.
“The most galling part of this debate is that the Bush Administration and Republican leaders are blackmailing Members of Congress to vote for this blank check with the threat of being accused of not supporting our troops. Yet it is the Republicans who are guilty of tragically disregarding our brave soldiers, troop safety and comfort and betraying our veterans.
“The money already is available to take care of our troops, but the Republicans haven’t delivered for our soldiers. Newly released data from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that the U.S. Army has enough funds for military personnel through June 2004 and for operations and maintenance through April 2004. This is proof that the Bush Administration has enough money to support our troops without yet another emergency funding bill from Congress and that it was poor planning, not a lack of funds, by the Bush Administration that put our troops in this position.
“I, for one, will not be an enabler to an administration that clearly cannot be trusted with our treasure, our lives, and those of the Iraqi people. We demand that our troops are taken care of, that force protection takes precedence over private contractors as our first priority, and that the Administration offers a plan to engage the international community in rebuilding Iraq. We demand accountability from President Bush.”
Friday, October 17, 2003
A worthwhile read concerning the new bill for Iraq (pun intended)
October 16, 2003 at 10:52 p.m. ET
How do you get conservatives to abandon their principles and vote for a $20 billion foreign-aid giveaway? You tie it to money for our troops. Suckers fall for for it every time. Either vote for the total package or you're abandoning our troops!
That's how $67 billion to supply and pay our troops in Iraq becomes $87 billion. You just add on $20 billion in spending -- some for Iraq, some for Afghanistan, Pakistan, Liberia and Sudan... even a little over $200 million for the State Department.
The leadership doesn't want a separate vote on the $20 billion in foreign aid because they know conservatives would vote against our tax dollars going for such outrageous expenditures as:
$900 million to import petroleum products into Iraq (a country with the second largest oil reserves in the world);
$793 million for healthcare in Iraq when we're in the midst of our own crisis and about to raise Medicare premiums of our seniors;
$10 million for "women's leadership programs" (more social engineering);
$200 million in loan guarantees to Pakistan (a military dictatorship that likely is the home of Osama bin Laden);
$245 million for the "U.S. share" of U.N. peacekeeping in Liberia and Sudan;
$95 million for education in Afghanistan; and the list goes on... including $600 million for repair and modernization of roads and bridges in Iraq (while our own infrastructure crumbles).
And how about this? $2.1 billion to rebuild Iraq's oil infrastructure -- a giveaway of U.S. taxpayers' dollars so Iraq can then make tens or hundreds of billions of dollars selling oil to the U.S.!
Tonight, conservative members of the U.S. House are having genuine misgivings about voting for this $20 billion foreign-aid giveaway and there is serious talk amongst them to vote against the $87 billion package.
Everyone knows Congress would quickly pass the $67 billion request to supply and pay our troops. But the $20 billion giveaway is a different matter -- and that is why leadership has been so adamant to tie the two amounts together and has aggressively opposed attempts to separate the two amounts. It makes you wonder if leadership is more interested in the foreign-aid giveaway than it is in supporting our troops.
Your representative needs to hear from you now. The vote on the $87 billion package will be held Friday afternoon. Urge your representative to vote against the $87 billion package. Tell your representative to stop this $20 billion foreign-aid giveaway before approving the $67 billion for our troops.
Send your message now by going to http://capwiz.com/liberty/issues/alert/?alertid=3761001&type=CO
The Liberty Committee
P.S. There is additional information about this issue posted on our Web site (http://www.thelibertycommittee.org).
Wednesday, October 15, 2003
By Peter Graff
Wednesday 15 October 2003
LONDON (Reuters) - War in Iraq has swollen the ranks of al Qaeda and galvanized the Islamic militant group's will, the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Wednesday in its annual report.
The 2003-2004 edition of the British-based think-tank's annual bible for defense analysts, The Military Balance, said Washington's assertions after the Iraq conflict that it had turned the corner in the war on terror were "over-confident."
The report, widely considered an authoritative text on the military capabilities of states and militant groups worldwide, could prove fodder for critics of the U.S.-British invasion and of the reconstruction effort that has followed in Iraq.
Washington must impose security in Iraq to prevent the country from "ripening into a cause celebre for radical Islamic terrorists," it concluded. "Nation-building" in Iraq was paramount and might require more troops than initially planned.
"On the plus side, war in Iraq has denied al Qaeda a potential supplier of weapons of mass destruction and discouraged state sponsors of terrorism from continuing to support it," the report said.
"On the minus side, war in Iraq has probably inflamed radical passions among Muslims and thus increased al Qaeda's recruiting power and morale and, at least marginally, its operating capability," it said.