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Saturday, 15 April 2006
The fruitcake file.
Topic: War on Terror
Mamoud Amadinejad is back in the news: At a two-day conference in Tehran to raise money for the Hamas led government in the PA, he said Israel was an "unending and unrestrained threat" to the Islamic world. He also said that Israel was "a decaying and crumbling tree that will fall with a storm." Hannah Allam of the Inquirer reports:

"Huge pro-Palestinian posters hung throughout the conference hall, including one that showed the Israeli flag superimposed over the face of Adolph Hitler...One video showed the Star of David made of barbed wire and emanating flames."

All of this coming on the heels of this week's nuclear saber rattling and you really have to wonder if this guy isn't really working for us. He's so crazy, so belligerent, that he just makes W.'s and Israel's case for a military strike. Unfortunately, words aren't a causus belli for most of the rest of the world. Condi Rice is calling for "strong steps" in the face of Iran's defiance from the UN Security Council when it meets on April 28th, but again, the Russians and the Chinese aren't looking too likely to go along with much of anything the administration wants. Rice said that steps had to be taken to "maintain the credibility of the international community." The one little fly in the ointment is, though, is that the United States has no credibilty after our blundering in Iraq. Nice work Condi!

Despite the heated warnings from Stephen Rademaker of Iran being able to make a bomb 16 days after they get those 54,000 centrifuges spinning and Iran's bellicose posturing, the intelligence community says Iran is still a long way away. On Wednesday, the NYT reportes that, "Western nuclear analysts said...that Tehran lacked the skills, materials and equipment to make good on its immediate nuclear ambitions." The analysts called Iran's claims to rapidly construct enough centrifuges to make a bomb "exaggerated." The thinking is that they might be able to do something in 5 to 10 years and "some analysts have said it could come as late as 2020."

But then again, all the intelligence agencies and analysts were "wrong" about Saddam's WMD weren't they? Well actually, many of them were right about the mobile chemical labs and the aluminum tubes and "curveball" and Chalabi being liars etc., they just weren't listened to. I'm sure as we speak there's some enterprising ladder climbers in the DIA or the CIA saying just what Cheney & CO. want to hear. The American people this time around aren't going to be as easily convinced, though. A new poll shows that a majority don't trust W. on the Iran threat. As W. said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:46 PM EDT
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Rummy's doing a heck of a job in Afghanistan, too.
Topic: War on Terror

The beat goes on in the "forgotten war," in Afghanistan. Not only is Rummy doing a "very fine job" in Iraq, he's also doing a "great job Brownie" in the other mess we're involved in. Remember, it was Rummy who pulled the plug on the hunt for OBL at Tora Bora so he could get his war on in Iraq (more stuff to bomb etc.) and as if that weren't bad enough, now the Taliban are back with a vengeance. Pretty much the whole of the southern part of the country is run by the Taliban, who are either fully supported by their Pashtun brethren or are scaring the local populous into submission.

AP reports today that 3 Afghan soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Khost province and 3 British soldiers were wounded in Lashkar Gar, Helmand province, when a suicide bomber rammed their convoy. This is just the latest in a long string of IED and suicide bombings from Helmand to Kandahar to Kunar. Sound familiar? Today there was a clash with the Taliban that the government reports killed another 6 Afghan and 40 insurgents. Naturally, since the press doesn't get out of Kabul much, we'll just have to take the government's word for the body-count. There is some controversy over this incident regarding the slow response of U.S. air support which took 6 hours to arrive.

Report the good news!

In a bit of good news, another "senior member" of al-Qaeda has been killed in a Pakistan. According to Pakistani officals, Muhsin Musa Matwalli Atwah was killed in the village of Anghar, which is along the Pakistani border with Afghanistan. Atwah is suspected of being involved with the American embassy bombings in Africa in 1998 and has a $5 million bounty on his head. Along with Atwah, the Pakistanis say they killed four to six other extremeists and four local villagers. Unfortunatly, the Pakistanis have no actual proof that they killed anyone, let alone Atwah.

The NYT reports:

"The officials said that extremists had removed the bodies immediately after the attack and buried them at a secret location, making the job of finding the remains for DNA tests to confirm the identities difficult."

Gosh, they're pretty efficient when it comes to making sure there's no evidence that anyone was really killed. That seems to happen a lot in Pakistan. If I only had a nickel for every time I read that a senior al-Qaeda figure or Abu al-Zarqawi's second in command had been killed...

In the "winning hearts and minds" department:

, we have this story from Newsweek about an Afghan man who saved a Navy SEAL's life back in June. A four man SEAL team was ambushed by the Taliban and all were killed except for one who was rescued, at great personal peril, by an Afghan man named Mohamad Gulab. Gulab was foraging for edible plants when he came across the wounded SEAL and he took him home and "fed and sheltered him for two days and helped contact a U.S. rescue team," according to Ron Moreau and Sami Yousafzai, for Newsweek.

The local Taliban soon found out what was going on and demanded that the village of Sabray, in Kunar province, give up the SEAL. Gulab and the town elders sent a message to the Taliban saying, "If you want him, you'll have to kill us all." The Taliban declined and the SEAL was later rescued. Gulab says the SEAL promised him $200,000 dollars as a reward and he claims the military said they would relocate him and his family to the U.S. The U.S. denies such an offer was ever made. The SEAL is still on active duty and the Newsweek report says he "declined to comment via his attorney, Alan Schwartz, an 'entertainment lawyer,' in Santa Monica Calif." Gulab is now living near the U.S. military base at Asadabad in Kunar making $250.00 a month as a construction laborer. "I sacrificed everything," he says. "Now no one cares. Why would anyone want to cooperate with the U.S. now?"

Military-grade security at Bagram. NOT!

While the Bush administration is feverishly reclassifying intelligence reports that were already declassified from the 1950's, the military in Afghanistan is working just as hard to sell all our secrets to whatever Afghan or al-Qaeda member has 40 bucks in his pocket. Paul Watson of the LA Times has been reporting this week that he was able to purchase U.S. military flash disks from venders at a Bazzar outside the base at Bagram. Contained in one disk were the names, addresses and children's names of all the Afghans who are working undercover for us.

Pretty incredible. You're doing a heck of a job Rummy!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:37 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 15 April 2006 1:53 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 12 April 2006
Weeks rather than months?
Topic: Bush Administraiton
What was I just writing about us being rational about the whole Iran nuke thing?

The ever vigilent readers at democratic underground found this story on the Blomberg News web site:

"Iran, which is defying United Nations Security Council demands to cease its nuclear program, may be capable of making a nuclear bomb within 16 days if it goes ahead with plans to install thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz plant, a U.S. State Department official said.

'Natanz was constructed to house 50,000 centrifuges,' Stephen Rademaker, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation, told reporters today in Moscow. 'Using those 50,000 centrifuges they could produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon in 16 days.'"

Now, all they have to do is build 49,000 more cetrifuges and they're all set.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:06 PM EDT
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World's craziest country award goes to...
Topic: Bush Administraiton

In the ongoing challenge to find the craziest country on Earth, Iran has jumped ahead of us again. We just get done digesting the news that W. & Co. are thinking about using nukes on Iran, and now here comes religious fanatic # 2, Mamoud Amandinejad, to announce that Iran has "joined the club of nuclear nations." Iran has supposedly managed to enrich a small amount of low grade uranium. Better get the B-2 bombers gases up! Or not; it doesn't appear that Iran is on the verge of making nukes quite yet.

Despite the panicked warnings of Israel and the administration, no one really thinks Iran is anywhere near getting a bomb. Joseph Cirincione of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says, "They've shown that they can run a small number of centrifuges for a few days. What they need to do is run thousands for months. This is a significant engineering challenge. Very small mistakes can lead to catastrophe." The WaPo qotes a Western official closely involved in monitoring Iran's progress saying, "This means they can operate a larger cascade, but can they do it for a long time? We don't know."

The CIA thinks they're 5 to 10 years away, so there's no need to overreact. Not that we won't overreact, knowing that our "war president" is rumored to be bent on taking care of the Iranian problem before another less resolute president takes office. There's always the chance the next president might not talk to God on a regular basis, after all.

This news comes as the IAEA's Mohamed ElBaradei is scheduled to arrive in Iran. He'll be visiting the nuclear facility at Nanatz and then he'll be reporting back to the U.N. Security Council later this month on Iran's compliance with the UN's ultimatum to stop all enrichment activity issued last month. It doesn’t look like the Iranians are in any mood to cooperate with e international community on what it sees as its right to produce uranium for its "civilian" energy program.

Things look pretty bleak, but there might be a Iranian pull back coming. Hannah Allam and Jonathan S. Landay in the Inquirer today report that Saeed Laylaz, a political analyst in Tehran, is expecting Iran to make another announcement soon that they're suspending all enrichment activities. "They wanted this big ceremony to show that nuclear technology is not a goal --- it's an achievement. That is enough, and now we can go back to negotiations."

In other words, this was all about showing the world that they actually have the capability of enriching uranium if they want to. Some experts on this issue even think the inevitability of an Iranian nuke isn't set in stone. This is all about nationalism and Iran flexing its muscles in the region. Making bombs is really, really, expensive and average Iranians aren't exactly rolling in cash. Jobs are scarce and 70% of the population is under the age of 25, so Iran has a long way to go to becoming the regional powerhouse it wants to be.

Ultimately, the only solution to this "crisis" is to talk to the Iranians. The natural inclination of this administration is to throw bombs at every problem, but that option might not be available in this situation. Sure we have the capability of inflicting "shock and awe" on the Iranians, but the chaos that would create in the region and the economic blowback is too prohibitive to even imagine. If we're really the most powerful nation on the Earth, we ought to be able to talk to the Iranians without any loss of face. We hold most of the cards and a less bellicose approach might bring the Chinese and the Russians around to seeing things our way.

Of course, all of this is based on an expectation both us and the Iranians being rational, there's no guarantee either side will be. The onus is on us, though, to do something positive. We're the ones with the money, the political clout and the military strength to make the difference here. Whether W. and his "war cabinet" have the imagination and the will to do anything other than keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again is the ultimate question that will determine if we avoid Armageddon or not.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:44 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 11 April 2006
Zarqawi: Bush's man for all seasons.
Topic: Iraq

The WaPo reports:

"The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

A pentagon briefing obtained by the Post says, "Through aggressive Strategic Communications, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now represents: Terrorism in Iraq/Foreign Fighters in Iraq/Suffering of Iraqi People (Infrastructure Attacks)/Denial of Iraqi Aspirations."

This is not exactly news and its been going on for longer than a year or two. Atimes Online reported back on Oct. 14 2004 that the U.S. was using Zarqawi as an excuse to level Fallujah. At that time PM Iyad Allawi was threatening Fallujah with destruction unless it handed over Zarqawi. Pepe Escobar quotes Sheikh Khaled al-Jumeili, a key Fallujah negotiator, as saying that there were only a small number of foreign jihadis in the city and he insisted that they were not terrorists, but plain mujahideen.

"Zarqawi is just an excuse for them to smash the spirit of the resistance," al-Jumeili said.

Before the invasion Escobar writes that Zarqawi was a nobody, but that:

"Zarqawi stopped being a non-entity on February 5, 2003, when he was spectacularly catapulted onto the global stage - six weeks before the start of the Iraq war - by US Secretary of State Colin Powell's weapons of mass destruction speech at the United Nations. Powell used Zarqawi to link Saddam Hussein's secular Ba'athist regime to the 'Islamic terror network', and thus partly justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq."

He can run but he can't hide. We're going to smoke him out! But not really, because after all the money we've spent on building up this "master of disguise and bogus identification papers," we wouldn't want to see that all go down the drain.

There's always Muktada!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:08 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 11 April 2006 2:36 PM EDT
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Monday, 10 April 2006
Duck and cover day in Iraq:
Topic: Iraq

Yesterday was the third anniversary of the "liberation" of Iraq, or "Freedom Day." Next month, we'll be celebrating "Mission Accomplished Day" followed soon after by the two year anniversary of the official turnover of "sovereignty" (two days early!) to the Iraqis. The most important date to remember, though, might be the Dec. 15th elections.

It must now be clear to anyone observing the slaughterhouse that is Iraq, that those "landmark" elections have produced nothing but a fiery hurricane of death and destruction. Going into the fifth month of forming a government of "national unity," any expectations at this late date of an actual liberal democracy resulting from all this bloodshed seems just slightly naive. The media and the pundits can keep pushing the fiction that there is a solution to the political "impasse" between the Shiites and the Sunnis, but there really is no "stalemate" or “gridlock." Indeed, the Iraqis are moving right along quite well to resolve their differences politically, only not exactly the way W. & Co. expected them to. In fact, they've taken a page from Clausowitz and are conducting their politics by other means (i.e. war).

For instance: Hundreds of bodies are popping up all over Baghdad every week, presumed to be the victims of Shiite death squads, and in retaliation the Sunnis are blowing up Shiites in their mosques. Any hopes that the bombing of the golden dome mosque in Samarra on Feb. 22 was an aberration, have been dashed. The mosque bombings are only becoming even more frequent and horrific. On Thursday, 10 people were killed in a car bombing in Najaf next to the Imam Ali shrine and on Friday, three suicide bombers killed 85 people and wounded over 150 in Baghdad.

These bombings don't seem to be just random acts of mass murder, either. The bombing in Najaf took place in the same neighborhood where Ayatollah Ali-Sistani and Muqtada al-Sadr live and the attack on the Buratha mosque in Baghdad might have been targeting Sheik Jalal Eddin al Sagheer, the preacher there and a leading Shiite politician, who just last week called for al-Jaafari to step down. This begs the question: were these Sunni on Shiite attacks, or Shiite on Shiite attacks? The tribal, ethnic and religious morass of Iraq is so murky; it's difficult to rule anything out.

Even worse, if that's possible, ominous reports are starting to become more frequent of Shiah and Sunni civilians being forced to leave their mixed neighborhoods to seek refuge in areas dominated by their respective religious factions. The appearance of refugee tent cities is a dead canary in the mine if I ever saw one.

As if to put a finer point on this, AP reported yesterday that a senior Iraqi official, Maj. General Hussein Kamal (Not the one who said Saddam had no WMD) said Iraq is in the midst of an "undeclared civil war." Kamal told the AP that, "All these bodies that are discovered in Baghdad, the slaughter of pilgrims heading to holy sites, the explosions, the destruction, the attacks of mosques are all part of this." (You think?)

So what to do? John Kerry said on Meet the Press this Sunday that his plan for a May 15th deadline for the Iraqis to get themselves together or we leave, isn't a cut and run proposition. He advocates a diplomatic approach along the lines of the Clinton's Dayton Accords that brought "peace" to Bosnia. He thinks a diplomatic get together where all the powers of the region can chew over the details of a permanent Iraqi peace is the ticket out of our new quagmire. That sounds like a more constructive idea than nuking Iran, but it’s a fantasy. Can you imagine a room full of Sunni Arab dictators agreeing on turning over Iraq to the Shiites?

No amount of diplomatic pressure or threats by us is going to make any difference. It's too late. Despite Condi Rice and Jack Straw's "surprise visit" to Baghdad last weekend and their effort to put a fire under the squabbling Iraqi politicians to get their act together, the visit may have only made things worse. Kirk Semple in the NYT reported on Thursday that, "a top adviser to Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Wednesday that the visit this week" by Rice and Straw "had backfired." Haider al-Abadi said, "Pressure from outside is not helping to speed up any solution. All it's doing in hardening the position of people who are supporting al-Jaafari."

This view is not unique to the supporters of al-Jafaari. Semple writes that even politicians who oppose al-Jaafari thought the visit was a mistake. Kurdish politician Mahmoud Othman said, "They complicated the thing, now it’s more difficult to solve. They shouldn't have come, and they shouldn't have interfered." The complaint that the Americans are interfering goes for ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, too, who is quickly wearing out his welcome. His insistence that the Shiites accommodate the Sunnis is grating on Shiites who see their Sunni counterparts as nothing more than the political front of the suicide bombers.

On the 31st of March a senior cleric, Ayatollah Muhammad al-Yacoubi, denounced Khalilzad in a sermon and called for him to be replaced. He said the Americans were trying to "change the demography of the Iraqi people and weaken the strongest component in Iraq, represented by the followers of Imam Ali." Khalilzad, he said, was offering "political support" for the "political front of the terrorists."

This is the mess we find ourselves in and it's all of our own making. We can complain that the Iraqis should be listening to us because we've spent so much treasure and blood to free them from Saddam, but then again, they didn't ask us to liberate them and they certainly didn't ask us to occupy their country for so long (Freedom Day celebrations notwithstanding). For us at this late date to be telling the Iraqis to solve their own problems after we wrecked their country and put them in this position is just slightly arrogant. Who are we to be telling them what to do?

I don't know what the answer is, there are no good options. A slightly less awful option is to extricate ourselves from the middle of this centuries old blood feud before we go completely bankrupt and damage our military beyond repair. Though this might lead to Iran increasing its influence in Iraq, they would be unlikely to take over totally. The Iranians are Persians, after all, and the Iraqis are Arabs. And the Iranians won't want to repeat our mistake by getting in over their heads in Iraq, either. One upside to our getting out would be al-Qaeda being weakened. The Iraqis themselves would expel the foreign elements of al-Qaeda that are there now, so there would be no chance of Iraq becoming another Afghanistan under the Taliban. And al-Qaeda would have a hard time recruiting new fighters if the "Great Satan" wasn't there to kick around anymore. Of course, they would all congregate in Afghanistan, but, hey, we'd still be fighting them over there and not on the streets of New York, right?

This is all speculation, of course but I think this is the least terrible option.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:48 PM EDT
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Saturday, 8 April 2006
Operation Armageddon: War with Iran is on!
Topic: Bush Administraiton

SEYMOUR M. HERSH writes in the April 17th New Yorker that the Bush administration is planning for war with Iran.

He writes: "Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups.

There is a growing conviction among members of the United States military, and in the international community, that President Bush’s ultimate goal in the nuclear confrontation with Iran is regime change.

A government consultant with close ties to the civilian leadership in the Pentagon said that Bush was 'absolutely convinced that Iran is going to get the bomb' if it is not stopped. He said that the President believes that he must do 'what no Democrat or Republican, if elected in the future, would have the courage to do,' and 'that saving Iran is going to be his legacy.'

One of the military’s initial option plans, as presented to the White House by the Pentagon this winter, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites."

So, not only are we going to bomb Iran into the stone age, we're going to do it with tactical nuclear weapons. John McCain was right, it will be Armageddon.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:35 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 4 April 2006
Operation "Great Prophet," being touted to great profit.

The Iranians have been using their military maneuvers in the Persian Gulf to good PR effect. On Friday they announced the launch of a Fajr-3 which they claim can "avoid radar and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads," according to the AP. However, missilethreat.com says:

"Previous intelligence reports indicate that Iran has used the designation “Fajr-3” to reference one of its many artillery rockets, one with an estimated range of only 45 km (approximately 25 miles). If this Fajr-3 is in fact the 'ballistic missile' that the Revolutionary Guards test-fired, then Iran would seem to have attracted worldwide attention for a test of apparently little significance."

On Monday Iran claimed they had tested a super fast torpedo, a "super-modern flying boat" that, according to Gen Ali Fadavi, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guard, is designed to hit submarines and other ships as well. "Even if enemy warship sensors identify the missile, no warship can escape from this missile because of its high speed."

Today they tested another one. These tests ocurred in the Straits of Hormuz, which is a real red line for the U.S. Navy. The Navy may be saying they're not too much interested in what Iran is up to, but you know they've got every spy plane and satallite focued on the Arabian Sea.

This "new" Iranian missile or torpedo is supossedly a re-do of the Russian VA-111 Shkval (Squall), which according to periscope.com is "A high-speed supercavitating rocket-propelled torpedo designed to be a rapid-reaction defense against U.S. submarines undetected by sonar."

If this thing can really do what it says it can do, this might be a real big probelm for us if we decide to take the military option against Iran. How likely is that you ask?

Another war for Israel?

Well, on Meet the Press on Sunday John McCain had some interesting things to say about using that option.

Tim Russert quoted McCain in the FT as saying:

"Everyone knows we’re not going to have two wars (at once). "I do not think [using force against suspected Iranian nuclear facilities] would be successful. There is no guarantee we would get all those facilities. If you have a strike and leave them with nuclear capability, you have got a hell of a challenge on your hands.’

Indeed, he told Russert, "I think we could have Armageddon."

But, "Put yourself in, in the position of the government of the state of Israel: a near neighbor who has announced his—their desire to put you out, into extinction, and they have the capability to do so. This is one—a very serious challenge."

Yes, a challenge to them, not us. This is all one in the same, though, isn't it? Not that we do the bidding of Israel or anything.

John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt write in a report called the "Israel Lobby" that:

The thrust of US policy in the region [the Middle Est] derives almost entirely from domestic politics, and especially the activities of the ‘Israel Lobby’. Other special-interest groups have managed to skew foreign policy, but no lobby has managed to divert it as far from what the national interest would suggest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of the other country – in this case, Israel – are essentially identical."

What rot! Just because a senior adviser to Bush, Philip Zelikow, who was the executive director of the the 9/11 commission said in 2002, said that the invasion of Iraq was mainly for the benefit of Israel, why would anyone believe this tot?

Zelikow said, "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel.”

George W. Bush seems to agree when it comes to Iran He saidin Cleveland on March 21st:

"The threat from Iran is, of course, their stated objective to destroy our strong ally Israel. That’s a threat, a serious threat. It’s a threat to world peace." Yes, the whole world is threatened.

"I made it clear, and I’ll make it clear again, that we will use military might to protect our ally Israel."

Because, that's what they're there for.

Whereas John McCain seems to find "Armageddon" in a war with Iran as a draw back, it appears to be a selling point for W..

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:50 AM EDT
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Saturday, 1 April 2006
Thousands of figurative tactical errors.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Boy, whoever thought a U.S. Secretary of State would have so many problems on a visit to our best friend in the world the UK? Condi Rice has been dodging anti-Iraq war protesters from the minute she landed. Jack Straw wanted to give her the royal treatment in his home constituency, but that plan hasn't turned out so well. The British foreign minister's name might not be a household word in Alabama, but an international warmonger like Condi is world famous for the blood on her hands.

A visit to a local mosque in Blackburn was called off on 'fears of an invasion' by anti-war Muslims; a football match she was supposed to attend was rescheduled to avoid her; Paul McCartney declined to meet her and when she went to the school that he attended in Liverpool instead, a half a dozen students lined up at the front door with t-shirts that read, "No torture, no compromise." Protesters outside the school chanted, "Hey, hey, Condi hey, how many kids did you kill today?" [Guardian]

Even a former Foreign Minister under Margaret Thatcher, Lord Hurd, in a speech at the empty football stadium said, "The world only works if the world's only superpower follows the rule like everyone else." Hmmm...I wonder who he was talking about. For her part, Condi said she was used to this sort of thing. "I've see it in every city I visit in the United States." Of course, she's so beloved and so many people support her policies that no matter where she goes at home or abroad she has to avoid massive protests.

I don't know if it was the constant pounding she was taking form the demonstrators or if it was the jet-lag, but at one point in answer to a question about the Iraq war she said the Bush administration had made, "tactical errors, a thousand of them perhaps, I'm sure." But it was all OK she explained because the overall strategy of getting rid of Saddam had worked. "Saddam Hussein wasn't going anywhere without a military intervention," she said. It's nice to see she has such faith in the Iraqi people to take control of their own destinies. (If Daddy Bush hadn't signed off on letting Saddam use his helicopters after he surrendered in the Gulf War maybe they would have had a chance to get rid of him on their own.) Later, one of her spokesman she was only speaking figuratively.

What the hell does that mean? She said her and her buddies had made thousands of tactical errors in a war W. keeps insisting is going great; "lessons learned" and all that, not thousands of tactical errors. It's lucky this bunch wasn't around when we were fighting Hitler. He made thousands of tactical errors, too, and you see where it got him. Unbelievable!

Meanwhile, W. was busy explaining things to the foreign press:

"I'm the funny guy. Go ahead"

Global Warming?

"We -- first of all, there is -- the globe is warming. The fundamental debate: Is it manmade or natural. Put that aside."

Foreign interference in Iraq?

"Syria is a complicated issue because of Lebanon. It's not complicated, actually, it's quite clear what needs to be done." Kaboom!

On remembering history:

"It's what Americans have got to understand. We tend to forget. Ours is a society where things are like instant, so therefore, history almost is like so far back it doesn't count."

On his upcoming visit to the G8 summit in Russia:

"And so I'm pretty confident...that I be in a position where I'm able to walk into the room with the President of Russia and him not throw me out."

Elections in Egypt:

"I appreciate the fact that there were elections in Egypt. That's positive...I think Egypt is a -- has a chance to be one of the leaders of the freedom movement in the Middle East."

[News item: "The Egyptian parliament Tuesday postponed local elections for two years despite opposition from the United States and a leading fundamentalist group, a state-owned newspaper and lawmakers said."

Progress for girls in Afghanistan:

"Afghanistan -- it's obvious -- when you have a society in which young girls weren't allowed to go to school because the Taliban thought it was like against humanity to send girls to school, and now they can, there's an amazing change in that society."

[News itemNews Item: Girls scholl's attacked in Afghanistan]

More figurative tactical errors to come....

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:12 PM EST
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Thursday, 30 March 2006
In Palestine:

Hamas officially took control of the PA yesterday and the U.S. now says it won't deal with any agency in the government. They're terrorists, you see, wouldn't be prudent. (Now we really have an excuse not to deal with the Middle East peace process.) I'm just wondering about the apparent double standard here. I mean, how many people has Hamas killed in the past year compared to the Shiite militias in Iraq? Hamas has maintained a ceasefire with Israel for over a year and after being democratically elected by a large majority of the Palestinian people, they managed to very efficiently form a government in about two months.

No one is saying that Hamas is some great enlightened Jeffersonian operation that is being victimized by the Israelis ---far from it ---but they are the party in control, they have the support of the Palestinians and, at the very least, they're a lot less corrupt than Mamoud Abbas' Fatah party. International donors can be more or less assured that their financial aid is actually going to the poor and not winding up in Swiss bank accounts.

In Iraq:

By contrast, the new Shiite majority in Iraq ---after over three months pointless point scoring and non productive squabbling --- have just announced they're not going to lift a finger to form a government because they're mad at us for an attacking one of Moqtada al-Sadr's militia compounds. This is the same Moqtada al-Sadr who killed a fellow cleric and waged two rebellions against us that caused the lives of dozens of U.S. troops. They're mad at us!

One of PM Jaafari's top spokesmen, Haydar al-Abdadi, went so far as to imply that the U.S. was responsible for the hundreds of mutilated bodies with bullets in the back of their heads popping up all over Iraq. He seems to think there are Iraqi army units solely under our control that are going around abducting Sunnis and killing them. Naturally, it couldn't be militias associated with the main Shiite political parties doing all this right under the noses of Iraq's democratically elected leaders. No way!

Back to Palestine:

After thirty years of brutal occupation, intifadas, suicide bombings and other acts of man's inhumanity to man, there is a chance that things may be going in the right direction in the Palestinian/Israeli "peace process." Instead of following Israel's lead, who once again is claiming they have no peace partner, we should use our influence to get both sides to moderate. Cutting off one side and just allowing the Israelis to unilaterally set the borders and do whatever the hell else they want to do, isn't going to lead to a lasting peace. Once and for all we should tell the Israelis that they can't pick and choose who they will and won't talk to. For better or worse, Hamas is there now. If Sharon had made even the slightest effort to work with Abbas, or we had insisted that he did, we wouldn't be in this position of having to deal with Hamas.

Back to Iraq:

Meanwhile in Iraq, it looks like they're on there way to thirty years of suicide bombings and even more brutal acts of man's inhumanity to man. W. & Co. really screwed the pooch by backing the religious fanatics. By L. Paul Bremer going along with Ayatollah ali-Sistani's approach to elections in an effort to quickly get out of this quagmire, he only hastened the breaking up of the country up into religious and ethnic blocs. Redressing centuries of wrongs done to the Shiites at the hands of the Sunnis and establishing majority rule is all well and good, except in a place like Iraq.

The BBC reported today that there may be as many as 30,000 Iraqis on the move in the country. Sunni and Shiites are moving from their homes in mixed neighborhoods into refugee camps and into the homes of their families in order to keep from getting killed by the various rampaging militias bent on cleansing those neighborhoods. Once this process is over, then the politicians can demarcate their green lines and get on with their civil war in earnest.

But all of this is something future Iraqi leaders and U.S. presidents can deal with. W. will have his presidential library fully stocked with picture books by the time things are settled in Iraq.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:34 AM EST
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