And speaking of empires: Tips on how to improve relations with the United (no empire here) States of
This week 73 year-old Nguyen Cao Ky, the former South Vietnamese prime minister, visited
“A United States Navy vessel docked in
To summarize the minimal “conventional steps” to better relations with the U.S., you open your economy to us, let our Navy’s ships dock at your ports, visit the Pentagon to improve military-to-military relations, and — voila, as they once said in Hanoi — you’re our friend. Oh, the Vietnamese would have let the State Department visit too, but the darn place didn’t have any aircraft carriers.
If no one else can say a good word about Halliburton, then Halliburton will
Halliburton has struck back, launching a vigorous print and TV ad campaign to offset a wee bit of bad publicity it’s received lately. Here’s a note from the Houston Chronicle (
“In an advertisement in the Chronicle, Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar argued: ‘Not many companies have our know-how, At one base, we flip thousands of omelets to feed the troops at breakfast. Simultaneously, in other parts of the country, we implement engineering plans to rebuild the country’s oil infrastructure.
“‘These are special skills, not special interests,’ Lesar wrote.”
Halliburton would only be a “special interest” if the
How to send troops to Iraq
Japanese troops — officially known as the Japanese Self-Defense Forces — have now landed in southern
“The Japanese government is reportedly paying approximately 10 billion yen to Iraqi tribal leaders to provide bodyguards for the Self-defense Forces in
“Last year, Abdul Amir Rikaabi, the powerful leader of an Iraqi tribe, visited
So, hired Iraqis will defend the Japanese troops sent to bring “security” to
(By the way, one interesting resource for subjects Japanese is at Japan Focus on ZNET.)
WMD where are you?
The third of our mighty trio of administration globe-trotters, Attorney General John Ashcroft offered the following slightly flat-Earth fallback position on those pesky missing weapons of mass destruction while hustling around
In the meantime, back in
Well, not all, as Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star points out (“Truth catching up to Bush,”
“[Kay's] conclusions are the same as those of Scott Ritter, a member of the first United Nations weapons inspections team that was withdrawn in 1998. And of Hans Blix, head of the reconstituted U.N. inspections team. And of Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
The only difference is that Ritter, Blix, and El Baradei — who aren’t of course “we” but “they” — came to these conclusions before we invaded another country. Small difference.
So now we have to live through a farcical discussion of and investigation of our “intelligence community,” an endless rehashing of “intelligence mistakes” as if none of this were at all obvious beforehand, as if this administration hadn’t been intent on invading, intelligence or no, as if it weren’t well known that Saddam’s Iraq was, by April 2003, a pathetic shadow of its former military self and no threat to the United States (whatever the threat it posed to its own citizens). Beam me up, Scottie.
At his Informed Comment website, historian Juan Cole, seizing on the President’s latest fallback position, offered a simple way of making this reality remarkably clear:
“Bush maintains that despite the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in
“This allegation simply is not true, however much a monster Saddam may be. Let’s look at the issue Harpers style:
US per capita annual income: $37,600
US nuclear warheads: 10,455
US tons of lethal chemical weapons (1997): 31,496
Number of foreign troops and civilians
Number of foreign troops and civilians Iraqi military has killed since 1968: approx. 250,000″
After rejecting an independent commission to investigate our “intelligence failures,” the President, according to Dana Milbank and Dana Priest of the Washington Post (
How to organize intelligence the right way
Okay, maybe our intelligence stinks, but some people actually have assets on the ground. Rowan
“Some senior administration officials suspect that Saddam Hussein’s followers have penetrated the coalition headquarters in
“A defense official told The Washington Times the suspicion at this point is not based on conclusive evidence, but on supposition. The source said some senior officials believe it is too much of a coincidence that Saddam loyalists know where and when to attack Army convoys. At times, attackers also seem to know the planned route of low-flying helicopters, more than 10 of which have been shot down since May.”
No wonder the CIA is now setting up an Iraqi counterintelligence operation around some reliable intelligence guys who really know what they’re doing — Saddam’s former (and much feared) intelligence operatives.
How to speak to terrorists and not end up in Guantanamo
Here’s a group that the
Of this, Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post wrote in part (“Charity Event May Have Terrorist Link,”
“Pentagon adviser Richard N. Perle, a strong advocate of war against
“The event, attended by more than 3,000 people Saturday at the
Note that Perle interrupted his book tour for An End to Evil: How to Fight the War on Terror, written with former Bush speechwriter David Frum, to give the speech. In a striking piece posted at Antiwar.com several days before Kessler’s piece appeared, the website’s columnist Justin Raimondo wrote (Richard Perle Supports Terrorism):
“He is the author of a book that criticizes the
“But not Richard Perleâ€¦
“For Perle, a member of the Defense Policy Board, to make a public appearance – in the middle of his book tour! – in front of a group that killed at least 6
Strange alliances in a strange world
Will this administration implode like a political dirty bomb before November 2004? Have the Democrats, thanks largely to Howard Dean, found something like their voices? (Check out Los Angeles Times‘ analyst William Arkin’s Jan. 25 piece on how close those voices still are to the Bush administration’s national security positions.) Is the intelligence “community” in
How long can he offer his explanations without beginning to sound hollow, lame, tacky even to some of his own supporters? Haroon Siddiqui in the piece mentioned above offers this comment on his latest
“â€¦ the White House is now trying a new tack: that Bush had never characterized Saddam’s danger as ‘imminent,’ only as ‘grave and growing.’
“There is a difference? The last time the White House tried such hair-splitting was when Bill Clinton argued it was not ‘sex’ that he had had with Monica Lewinsky. The difference in this case, of course, is that more than 500 Americans and nearly 15,000 Iraqi soldiers and civilians are dead.”
Robert Scheer of the LA Times had a similar thought, in his Jan. 27 column, “
My gut feeling is that we are witnessing a process of slow change. I note, for instance, a small rise in the number of people who write me and sign their e-mails something like “a former Republican,” or are outraged anti-imperial conservatives or libertarians. We’re in a strange new world — as I meant to indicate above — and alliances, political bedfellows, even the definitions of left and right may be in the process of changing in interesting ways.
I leave you then with a few paragraphs from an environmental piece by Nick Jans that caught my eye in USA Today on the unhappiness that some hunters are now feeling with the Bush assault on the Western environment (“Conservative sportsmen turn against Bush,” 1/27/04). He speaks of:
“…a powerful rumble of discontent…growing from what seems, at first glance, an unlikely source. Just weeks before the exemption [of
“‘This is a constituency that is slow to anger, but the administration is starting to see a backlash,’ [Chris] Wood [vice president for conservation at Trout Unlimited] says. ‘The “Sportsmen for Bush” bumper stickers … might be pretty scarce in 2004â€¦’
“Whether this wide-flung group is capable of banding together with their traditional environmentalist foes to protect common interests remains to be seen. But the angry shouts are growing. When I look in the mirror, I see an ardent outdoorsman and an independent who once voted Republican. I won’t make that mistake again.”
[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing and author of The End of Victory Culture and The Last Days of Publishing.]