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Friday, January 02, 2004

Washington Week in Review tells you what not to think about:

Last week (26 Dec 2003) PBS' Washington Week in Review had a year end round-up to examine the significant events of 2003. They covered four topics: Bush's foreign policy, Democratic presidential candidates, the economy, and domestic issues (Medicare, gay unions). We were surprised at the breezy treatment of Bush's foreign policy - which was mostly about the Iraq war. We reproduce the exchange on foreign policy below with the text highlighted in RED when the panel discussed Bush's unsupported claims of WMD and terrorist connections, and general mismanagement (e.g. disbanding the Iraqi army, Haliburton contracts).
GWEN IFILL, host: Every year at this time, we take a look back, and we never fail to be shocked at how much has actually happened. So much this year centers on the war in Iraq. In September, nearly five months after the president declared major combat operations over, he was still evoking the memory of 9/11 and reassuring the American people that it was all worth it.
President GEORGE W. BUSH: Two years ago, I told the Congress and the country that the war on terror would be a lengthy war, a different kind of war fought on many fronts in many places. Iraq is now the central front. Enemies of freedom are making a desperate stand there, and there they must be defeated.
IFILL: So, Michael, looking back on this year, it becomes clear that George W. Bush staked his entire presidency on foreign policy.
Mr. MICHAEL DUFFY (Time Magazine, Washington Bureau Chief): Yeah, and it's also clear that the way the year ends with so many surprises, and the way it began with so much anxiety about how the war would turn out, we've learned that the president has discovered that he's got a lot more tools in his foreign policy toolbox at the end of the year than we thought he had at the beginning. And it may be that the use of war as an instrument of foreign policy has given him the confidence, may have given him the confidence to use some of these other tools they didn't even know they had. The--the invasion of Iraq is the signature event of the year. The president took a small coalition and a maximum foreign--you know, preemptive foreign policy overseas. He invaded the country. He tossed out the dis--dictator. And they're beginning the long, hard work of trying to, you know, rebuild the country physically and psychologically. And that's going to be the--what puts him in the history books for good or for ill. It's going to be what probably determines whether he's re-elected or not.
   But we also learned that it's not the only--preemptive war is not the only tool the administration has discovered. This year, we saw them go take on North Korea in a different way than we had expected in the first year. They have begun to work multilateral negotiations with the North Koreans with countries we didn't--he wasn't thinking of before, Chinese, the Russians. And--and the same what happened last week with Libya, something of a surprise, secret negotiations, bilateral negotiations. So we've disc--one of the things that I think we've--one of the things he has learned or they have learned and we've seen is that they realize now there are lots of different ways to skin these cats if weapons of mass destruction is what you're worried about.
Mr. ALAN MURRAY (CNBC Washington Bureau Chief): Yeah, I mean, Libya happened late at night. It didn't get--on a Friday night, not too late. You cut it on your show, I'm sure, but...
IFILL: Yes, we did.
Mr. MURRAY: But it didn't get as much attention as it might have if it had happened earlier. But if invading Iraq means that you have more leverage in dealing with Libya, in dealing with North Korea, in dealing with Iran, then history will look at this in a very different way than people are--have been looking at it this year.
Mr. DUFFY: All right. They didn't think of that when they started thinking about invading Iraq. That may be--this may be a byproduct even they didn't anticipate. But then, there's no question that there are things about the whole Iraqi invasion that are far from cleaned up yet. I mean, they--you know, they're going to have a long year still, maybe several years, putting this country back together. The--the clean-up work is huge. They still haven't figured out how they're going to organize this government. The Iraqis haven't figured out how they're going to do it. But they have seen, I think that there are lots of different ways to get results overseas, either because or despite what they've--what's taken place in Iraq. And--and that--that--that seems to have been one of the thing's he's trying to tell us, too, without saying it in the last couple of weeks.
Ms. ALEXIS SIMENDINGER (National Journal White House Correspondent): To the extent that this year has shown the president's ability to make mid-course corrections or to make adjustments in addition to the kinds of initiatives he takes, where do you think that is going to take 2004 in terms of this being the test that the president has set himself, Iraq, for his own presidency?
Mr. DUFFY: There have been so many different mid-course corrections on Iraq since the shooting stopped, I mean...
Ms. SIMENDINGER: Right.
Mr. DUFFY: ...it's a little hard. You'd have to have a really big piece of paper just to graph that, `OK, we're going to go down this road. Now we're going to--we're going to go back and do this.' Lots of different changes about whether to reconstitute the Army or not, yes, no, yes. We're back at yes. How far, you know, to de-Ba'athify this country, yes, no, we're back, `Oh, well, maybe we won't worry about that so much anymore.'
   He's got problems in other places where he's going to need to do a lot of work in this fourth year. He's going to have to do something about Pakistan. This is a country that is clearly one of our great allies in the war on terror with Afghanistan. We can't really find Osama bin Laden without the Pakistanis' help, yet it turns out they're one huge nu--nuclear proliferator. They may be the--the king of the hill in that department. He's going to have to do something there. That's going to require some big change.
   He's going to have to also go back to Europe, I think, in that--in 2004. A lot of mending and fixing to be done there. This is not--this is a--this is a part of the world that has about given up on the United States. And--and he's going to have to spend some--decide whether he wants to now fix that or kind of keep going down the road he was going. So there's lots of work to be done there, too.
Mr. RICHARD BERKE (The New York Times Washington Editor): But haven't we learned how perilous foreign policy is for this president? I mean, right now, the way you're describing it, it's pretty rosy, and things are looking good for the president, for the country. But before Saddam was caught, not long ago, we were talking about casualties. We were talking about a situation where the president did not want to go to the funerals of a lot of the--the--the killed soldiers in Iraq, because why bring attention to the tragedy of--that was going on day after day there. So it seems like things have switched back and forth and up and down. It's been a real roller coaster, and who's to say that couldn't change again?
Mr. DUFFY: This is riskiest way to--to run your for--your presidency, to--to turn it on foreign policy, but that's a decision he has made. I--I'm struck by how there are lots of advantages you get when you--when you go down this road, when you make foreign policy the--the heart and soul of your presidency. You get to organize your whole government around something that's--that can have--that has clarity. You get to put yourself at the center of it. And I'm--it's not to say that everything's rosy, but I--I--I think they got lots of challenges ahead.
IFILL: Well, and among those challenges are mending relations--mending and fixing relations abroad as well.
Mr. DUFFY: Everywhere. I--I think he's got, as I said, particularly in Europe, a lot of work to do. And...
Ms. SIMENDINGER: Or Jim Baker does.
Mr. DUFFY: Yeah, that's right, yes, in--in terms of--of getting the--the--the debt fixed up. And--and--and Iraq and Afghanistan are not done. These--these are ongoing multiyear projects which the--you know, we may have reached some sort of emotional high at times. There are going to be lows coming in the following year, too.
Hardly any text in red? Apparently they decided not to talk about Bush's mendacity. Except for a few tepid noises about the post-invasion events, the viewer was treated to a discussion about how premtive invasion is just another tool of foreign policy. That's "liberal" PBS for you.


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Liberals - are you ready to defend yourselves?

We found this message posted on Yahoo to be a good example of the thinking of a part of the electorate (and viewers of Fox News). It's typical of the comments one hears from callers to right-wing radio programs, and while these people may be politically unreachable, their notions - or a diluted form of them -are definitely part of the zeitgeist. It makes one wonder if winning the Cold War was a good thing, because when the real threats have been dealt with, it's inevitable that the search for enemies (that no longer exist) results in the creation of new enemies. That's Manicheism for you. Anyway, here is the post. An excellent snapshot of the times.
Liberals=Communist
by: pooplapants 01/01/04 10:05 pm
Msg: 626 of 852
7 recommendations

Communist's are Socialists.
Liberals in America can’t wait to implement the latest Socialist idea.
Communist's used the education system to indoctrinate the young.
Liberals in America use our once-objective institutions of higher learning to force-feed Socialist and Communist ideas to a largely unwilling audience.
Communist's used propaganda and the media to obtain and retain power.
89% of Journalists in America admit that they only for Liberals.
Communist's over-regulated businesses until they simply took them over.
Liberals in America have suffocated large and small businesses alike under a mountain of regulations and lawsuits.
Communist's utilized slave labor in most facets of their economy.
Liberals in America have established and maintained a dependent poverty class.
Communist's strove to set up a state religion, and jailed religious leaders who would not comply.
Liberals in America ridicule and expunge to the best of their ability all things religious, yet speak from the pulpit in churches where compliant ministers submit to their morally vacant ideas.
Communist's replaced the Bible with Marxism.
Liberals in America took Bibles out of the classroom long ago - about the same time that drug use, teen pregnancies, violent crime and sexually transmitted diseases started to skyrocket - and SAT scores plummeted.
Communist's killed 20 million people in concentration camps.
Liberals in America are responsible for 35 million deaths since Roe vs. Wade. At the same time, they have allowed 35 million immigrants to enter the United States.
Communist's tolerated homosexuals and other sexual deviants who swore allegiance Stalin.
Liberals in America tolerate every morally bankrupt sexual persuasion on the face of the earth-as long as they vote for Liberals. Communist's obeyed every order from The Kremlin, believing he could never be wrong.
Liberals in America do not believe in the concept of right and wrong - only what feels" good to each person.
Communist's would often beat up, expel, jail or execute party members who disagreed with the leadership.
Liberals have virtually taken over one political party in America by demoting, persecuting and alienating all but the most Liberal members.
Communist's erected a huge and cumbersome national health care system.
Liberals in America have repeatedly proposed national health care bureaucracies with organization charts that look like the schematic diagram for an Intel computer chip.
Liberals in America, particularly Liberal judges, and change the U.S. Constitution at will by “Finding penumbras”, and ignores those who insist that such changes require an amendment.
Communist's set national educational standards to ensure that everyone absorbed the requisite amount of propaganda.
Liberals in America fight home schooling with a vengeance and continue to push for national education standards.
Communist's thought that communism would last forever.
Liberals in America think that Socialism will rule the world forever, even though has failed each and every time it has been tried.


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Monday, December 29, 2003

Essential reading:

We are in complete agreement with George Soros' view as expressed in his Atlantic magazine article. Excerpts:
The terrorist attack on the United States could have been treated as a crime against humanity rather than an act of war. Treating it as a crime would have been more appropriate. Crimes require police work, not military action. Protection against terrorism requires precautionary measures, awareness, and intelligence gathering—all of which ultimately depend on the support of the populations among which the terrorists operate.

Declaring war on terrorism better suited the purposes of the Bush Administration, because it invoked military might; but this is the wrong way to deal with the problem. Military action requires an identifiable target, preferably a state. As a result the war on terrorism has been directed primarily against states harboring terrorists. Yet terrorists are by definition non-state actors, even if they are often sponsored by states.

The war on terrorism as pursued by the Bush Administration cannot be won. On the contrary, it may bring about a permanent state of war. Terrorists will never disappear. They will continue to provide a pretext for the pursuit of American supremacy.

The terrorist threat must be seen in proper perspective. Terrorism is not new. It was an important factor in nineteenth-century Russia, and it had a great influence on the character of the czarist regime, enhancing the importance of secret police and justifying authoritarianism.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: al Qaeda is not a state power. In fact, taking the adminstration at its word, the most recent alert was triggered by the concern that al Qaeda would hijack an airliner (or two). What more proof do you need that these guys don't have any weaponry? Sure, they are a menace with truck bombs, but the Bush adminstation has been treating al Qaeda as if they had submarines and jet fighters and laser guided bombs. They don't. The core is about 2,000 guys, mostly in Afghanistan. They were not captured when there was the opportunity (immediately after September 11), and now, two years later, it will be much harder to get them - partly because of the Iraq invastion, partly because the global (and expecially Islamic) community is less likely to go along. Bush wasted an opportunity to soundly defeat al Qaeda, and as Soros points out, used September 11 to advance other agendas (Total Invormation Awareness, PATRIOT Act, bigger military budget, invading Iraq).


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