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Lets's talk about democracy
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Friday, 26 March 2004
Beware the Dragon
While we're bogged down in the Middle East and in South Asia, China is busy getting their ICBM program together. Within a short while they'll have a missile that can reach New York. They can already hit Los Angeles. This presents problems if we ever have to help Taiwan defend itself.

China has already threatened that they won't let economic factors or the upcoming Olympics in Beijing prevent them from attacking Taiwan if it declares independence. The apparent re-election of Chen Shui-bian doesn't bode well for a smooth releationship with the People's Republic over the next four years.

Here's some info on China's defence posture:
China Nuclear Forces Guide
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ops/taiwan.htm

There was an interesting report on "The World" yesterday on this subject:

"Beijing is growing anxious over talk of independence for Taiwan and
Beijing's military arsenal is growing as well. A Chinese attack on
Taiwan could draw the United States into war. China's missiles, already
aimed at Taiwan, are powerful enough to reach America."

http://www.theworld.org/latesteditions/20040325.shtml

Some more background on the Taiwan/China problem from www.globalsecurity.org

http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/news/2004/040319-taiwan-china.htm

Remember when we were "very sorry" for the Chinese pilot that died in the EP-3 Spy Plane incident in April 2001? They got our most sophisticated spying platform and took it apart peice by peice. This makes us extremely vunerable. You think we had intelligence problems in Iraq? Well, this is much worse.

Too bad two thirds of our entire military is in the Middle East. We might not be able to "do what it takes" to defend Taiwan if China decides they've had it with president Chen.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:43 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 26 March 2004 5:28 PM EST
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Thursday, 25 March 2004
That "W" is a real funny guy!
I hope the families of the two GIs that died today are yuking it up!

Bush Pokes Fun at Media Dinner

The president was a scream last night, at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner.

It's absolutely worth reading the full text of his remarks.

http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=165-03242004

Among his funnier lines:

* "Do you know what Rummy's favorite TV show is? 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.' (Laughter.) My Cabinet could take some pointers from watching that show. In fact, I'm going to have the Fab Five do a make over on Ashcroft. (Laughter.)"

* "A couple of years ago when I was here, I read from my book of 'Misarticalations.' (Laughter.) Fortunately, my verbal phonation and electricution -- (laughter) -- have improved."

I'm trying to find the pictures that went along with his "White House Election-Year Album" slide show, but so far I haven't succeeded.

As Jennifer Frey writes in The Washington Post, he "described a picture of himself doing what looked like the shuffle in the Oval Office in front of Condoleezza Rice as 'here I'm trying to explain John Kerry's foreign policy to Condi.'"

And he "put up dorky-looking pictures of himself. A recurring joke involved photos of the president in awkward positions -- bent over as if he's looking under a table, leaning to look out a window -- accompanied by remarks such as 'Those weapons of mass destruction must be somewhere!' and 'Nope, no weapons over there!' and 'Maybe under here?'"

See White House Briefing by Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/administration/whbriefing/


Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:25 PM EST
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Lest we forget the other mess we're in...
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States has placed about 2,000 Marines with special operations training aboard Navy ships in the Gulf, poised for use in Afghanistan, where the hunt for al Qaeda and Taliban fugitives is intensifying, defense officials said on Thursday.

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20040325/ts_nm/afghan_usa_marines_
dc

Some more background on this issue:

Afghan offensive: Grand plans hit rugged reality
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/FC20Df02.html

KARACHI - The plan to eradicate the Afghan resistance was straightforward: US-led coalition forces would drive from inside Afghanistan into the last real sanctuary of the insurgents, and meet the Pakistani military driving from the opposite direction. There would then be no safe place left to hide for the Taliban and al-Qaeda remnants, or, presumably, for Osama bin Laden himself. The plan's implementation began with the launch of operation "Mountain Storm" around March 15.

How the US set Pakistan aflame
By Syed Saleem Shahzad

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/FC18Df01.html

There are three interested parties keeping keen eyes on the deteriorating situation:

?The anti-Musharraf segment within the army, which will now likely exploit the situation as they feel Pakistani soldiers have been misused in a war which is not theirs .

?The US-led coalition, which was keen to conduct operations in Pakistani territory. Now that the tribespeople have also been branded by Pakistani authorities as "terrorists", the US military has a golden opportunity to enter Pakistan to crush the "terror networks".

?The jihadis in Pakistan who are keen to participate in the Afghan resistance. Previously, it was difficult for Pakistanis to take part because controls in the border areas made entry into Afghanistan a challenge. Now, with clashes on the Pakistan side of the border, the fighters will find their way to the battlefields.

The most immediate threat to Pakistan's stability is within the Pakistani army, where a strong contingency rejects Musharraf and his accommodation of the US. This may push political parties like Jamaat-i-Islami to stage strong demonstrations of power in an effort to force Musharraf to step down.

--Oh yes, and Al-Quaeda is calling for the overthrow of Musharraf today.

'Al-Qaeda tape' vilifies Pakistan:
An audio recording purportedly made by senior al-Qaeda figure Ayman al-Zawahri has been broadcast by the pan-Arab television station, al-Jazeera.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3569693.stm

See also, the Secret War:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/afghanistan/story/0,1284,1174626,00.html

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:31 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 25 March 2004 3:38 PM EST
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Monday, 22 March 2004
All hell breaks loose.
There are three really big stories to watch after this weekend. Richard Clarke calling out the Bush administration on their poor job on the war on terror, the elections in Taiwan and Israel killing Sheikh Yassin.

Read an excellent round up of the Richard Clarke situation at the Washington Post White House briefing page:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/politics/administration/whbriefing/

A related article which backs up what Clarke was talking about:

FBI Budget Squeezed After 9/11
Request for New Counterterror Funds Cut by Two-Thirds
By Dana Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 22, 2004; Page A06

In the early days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the Bush White House cut by nearly two-thirds an emergency request for counterterrorism funds by the FBI, an internal administration budget document shows.

The document, dated Oct. 12, 2001, shows that the FBI requested $1.5 billion in additional funds to enhance its counter-terrorism efforts with the creation of 2,024 positions. But the White House Office of Management and Budget cut that request to $531 million. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, working within the White House limits, cut the FBI's request for items such as computer networking and foreign language intercepts by half, cut a cyber-security request by three quarters and eliminated entirely a request for "collaborative capabilities."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A13541-2004Mar21.html

On the Yassin killing we have this. The financial markets were already heading south overnight on fears of instability in Taiwan. The news of Yassin and the expected blow- back have carried over to the American markets today.

`The Israeli military announced it had killed Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Hamas militant group that had claimed responsibility for several attacks in Israel.

The news stoked fears of an upsurge in militant actions from other Islamic groups. "People are fearing possible attacks here in the States," said one trader, adding, "there's an absence of buyers and everyone's trying to sell on this [news] tape."'

http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1079419829699&p=1012571727102

An Islamic Web site has published a statement purporting to come from an al Qaeda-linked group vowing revenge on the United States and its allies over Israel's assassination of Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Reuters reported

http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1079929450659

"We tell fighters in Palestine, especially Hamas and Jihad, that your real enemy is the tyrant of the age, America, because Sheikh Yassin was killed by American money, weapons and political and media support," the statement said.

According to Haaretz also:

Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter was opposed to assassinating Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who was killed in an Israeli missile strike early Monday morning in Gaza, Channel Two TV reported Monday evening.

At last week's security cabinet meeting, during which the decision was made to target Yassin, Dichter argued that the costs of killing the Hamas leader outweighed the benefits to Israel, the report said.

http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/spages/407397.html

[Don't worry though, Condi Rice has it all under control:]

"It is very important that everyone step back now and try now to be calm in the region," Rice told NBC's "Today" show.
"There is always a possibility of a better day in the Middle East and some of the things being talked about by the Israelis - about disengagement from areas - might provide new opportunities."

"I would hope that nothing will be done to preclude those new opportunities from emerging," she added.

[Yeah, right. Maybe she should have told Israel that before they killed Yassin?]

"White House national security advisor Condoleezza Rice said in morning television shows the United States did not have advance warning of the assassination from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

[Well, that's just great. They do something like this, which will surely provoke more attacks against us, their supposed ally, and they don't tell us? Maybe because we would have said no? We give them a lot of money ( Billions!) and weapons every year; you'd think they'd take us into account before doing something this reckless. I think Israel is really playing fast and loose with the Arms Export Control Act. It was our helicopters that killed Yassin, a fact that won't be lost on people in the region].

Here's an really good resource for more info on Middle East:] news:http://www.accessmiddleeast.com/index.aspx

[And lest we forget, there's the brewing crisis in East Asia:]

"Many now view Chen [President Chen Shui-bian] as reckless and a threat to the vital U.S. interest in at least temporarily improving ties with China while it wrestles with the war on terrorism and the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis.

The U.S. challenge now will be to convince Chen to exercise restraint and take a conciliatory stance towards China. At the same time, Washington must keep Beijing at arm's length as it inevitably renews its attempts to push the United States into joining forces to undermine not only President Chen but also Taiwan's existing de facto independence."

From the National Review On-line:

http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/munro200403220839.asp. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1079929450659

UPDATE:(also see posted comments)
from AP:

For the first time Monday, Hamas threatened the United States and suggested it might seek outside help in carrying out revenge attacks.

"The Zionists didn't carry out their operation without getting the consent of the terrorist American administration and it (the United States) must take responsibility for this crime," Hamas said in a statement. "All the Muslims of the world will be honored to join in on the retaliation for this crime."

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&ncid=1312&e=1&u=/ap/20040323/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_palestinians_32



Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:20 PM EST
Updated: Tuesday, 23 March 2004 12:39 AM EST
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Saturday, 20 March 2004
Ex-Advisor Says Bush Eyed Bombing of Iraq on 9/11
Fri Mar 19, 7:20 PM ET
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former White House anti-terrorism advisor says the Bush administration considered bombing Iraq (news - web sites) in retaliation after Sept. 11, 2001 even though it was clear al Qaeda had carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon (news - web sites).
Richard Clarke, who headed a cybersecurity board that gleaned intelligence from the Internet, told CBS "60 Minutes" in an interview to be aired on Sunday he was surprised administration officials turned immediately toward Iraq instead of al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden (news - web sites).
"They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12," Clarke says.

see story: http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=574&ncid=721&e=1&u=/nm/20040320/wl_nm/iraq_retaliation_dc


Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:17 AM EST
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Friday, 19 March 2004
A Deadly Day for Charlie Company
(Too bad "W" doesn't read newspapers. He might get a clue of what these guys had to go through because Saddam tried to kill his daddy.)


By Rich Connell and Robert J. Lopez
The Los Angeles Times

Tuesday 26 August 2003

The Marine unit was supposed to have backup as it entered battle in Iraq. But it was alone, and chaos exploded.

The convoy rumbled north, through the heart of the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah. It was the fourth day of the war, and the men of Charlie Company had orders to capture the Saddam Canal Bridge on the city's northern edge.

The Marines were taking heavy fire. Then there was an ear-splitting blast. A rocket-propelled grenade ripped open one of the amphibious assault vehicles, lifting it off the ground.

A thick, dark cloud filled the vehicle's interior. Some of the Marines donned gas masks, fearing a chemical attack. Screams pierced the smoke:

We got a man down! We got a man down!

The Marines' light armor had been pierced, and with it any illusion that this would be easy. They would take the bridge, but at a cost. Eighteen men from a single company were killed that day and 15 wounded, making it the deadliest battle of the war for U.S. forces.

Public attention, briefly riveted on the fighting in Nasiriyah, has since moved elsewhere. The struggle to rebuild Iraq and contain mounting guerrilla violence now occupies center stage. But the Marines of Charlie Company, now back home, are not ready to put that Sunday in March behind them.

They want to know why commanders sent them into an urban firefight without tanks, without protective plating for their vehicles and with only half the troops planned for the mission.

They want to know why an Air Force fighter strafed their positions as they struggled to hold the bridge, killing at least one Marine and possibly as many as six.

Five months later, the U.S. Central Command is still investigating the "friendly fire" episode. The Marine Corps has conducted its own review of the battle but said it will not release its findings until the other investigation is finished.

Read whole story:
http://www.truthout.com/docs_03/082703G.shtml

The Iraq War: The Marines' View from the Ground
Field Historians Captured Troops' Impressions Fresh from Combat
http://www.npr.org/display_pages/features/feature_1779100.html

Two More Marines Killed Today In Iraq.
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20040319/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq&cid=540&ncid=1480

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:07 PM EST
Updated: Friday, 19 March 2004 5:11 PM EST
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Thursday, 18 March 2004
Oopse...there goes another one
March 18, 2004
Poland 'Misled' on Iraq, President Says
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Filed at 3:03 p.m. ET

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a key Washington ally, said Thursday he may withdraw troops early from Iraq and that Poland was ``misled'' about the threat of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

His remarks to a small group of European reporters were his first hint of criticism about war in Iraq, where Poland currently has 2,400 troops and with the United States and Britain commands one of three sectors of the U.S.-led occupation.

``Naturally, one may protest the reasons for the war action in Iraq. I personally think that today, Iraq without Saddam Hussein is a truly better Iraq than with Saddam Hussein,'' Kwasniewski told the European reporters.

``But naturally I also feel uncomfortable due to the fact that we were misled with the information on weapons of mass destruction,'' he said, according to a transcript released by the presidential press office.

President Bush, in the chow line with troops at Fort Campbell, Ky., after delivering a speech, was asked about Kwasniewski's remarks but shook his head and said, ``I'm here to eat.''

Earlier in the day, Kwasniewski said Poland may start withdrawing its troops from Iraq early next year, months earlier than the previously stated date of mid-2005. He cited progress toward stabilizing Iraq.

``Everything suggests that pullout from Iraq may be possible after the stabilization mission is crowned with success and, in my assessment soon, it may be the start of 2005,'' Kwasniewski told RMF-FM radio.

His comments came days after Spain's new government, taking power in the wake of Madrid bombings apparently linked to al-Qaida, said it would pull its troops from Iraq by June 30 unless the United Nations takes over.

The 9,500-strong multinational force that Poland commands in south-central Iraq includes the 1,300 Spaniards.

Kwasniewski noted that Iraq now has an interim constitution and said should soon have an interim government that will allow current forces to be replaced by peacekeepers.

He insisted that Poland's possible early withdrawal would not be prompted by fears of terror attacks or reprisals against his country for its role in Iraq.

``We are facing the same threat as Spain,'' Kwasniewski said, but ``terrorism must be combatted, also with force.''

Kwasniewski is a key Bush ally in Europe, although support for the military presence in Iraq has been far from overwhelming among Poles.

A poll last week found 42 percent of adults in favor and 53 percent opposed. The CBOS survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.



Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:12 PM EST
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Wednesday, 17 March 2004
Hmm...there's that word "mislead" again
THE NATION
Medicare Ads Set Off Debate
Democrats say White House 'video news releases' mislead. The GAO will investigate.

By Vicki Kemper, Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- It was with great fanfare that the Bush administration unveiled 30- second television commercials and a two-page flier that would be mailed to 41 million seniors and disabled people, touting the newly enacted Medicare prescription drug benefit.

Missing from the publicity was any mention of "video news releases," which feature "interviews" with government officials and voice-overs by production company employees posing as Washington reporters, for use in local TV news shows.

On Monday, less than a week after it concluded that the administration's Medicare commercials and fliers were technically legal but contained "notable omissions and errors," the General Accounting Office said it would conduct another investigation to determine whether the video news releases constituted illegal "covert propaganda."

Full Story: http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-medicare16mar16,1,5873255.story

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:21 PM EST
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Gosh, I never saw this coming.
It's almost April. This is usually the time when the world goes crazy. Think we may have bitten off more than we can chew?
(See my ramblings from last October, below, on the Syrian Accountablitiy Act.)

March 17, 2004
As Many as 6 Kurds Die in 4th Day of Unrest in Syria
By NEIL MacFARQUHAR

AMASCUS, Syria, March 16 -- Kurdish protesters and Syrian security forces clashed violently again in several northern cities on Tuesday, with up to six people killed, Kurdish and human rights activists said.

The deadly confrontations erupted on a day when thousands of Kurds held public vigils to mark the anniversary of the Iraqi use of chemical weapons against residents of Halabja in northern Iraq in 1988.

The commemoration is usually peaceful, but this year it followed several days of tension across the Kurdish areas of northern Syria. Some 15 people were shot dead after clashes erupted at a soccer match on Friday.

The unrest comes at a particularly anxious moment for the Syrian government, under pressure at home for greater openness and from Washington to abandon its development of chemical weapons and crack down on organizations the United States accuses of terrorism.

Full Story:
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/17/international/middleeast/17SYRI.html?pagewanted=print&position=

Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:47 PM EST
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Here we go again!
Oh, this isn't good. See, we get all wrapped up all over the place with the war on terror and next thing you know...
( see "Bounding the Global War on Terrorism" http://www.carlisle.army.mil/ssi/pubs/2003/bounding/bounding.htm )

March 18, 2004
Kosovo Torn by Widest Violence Since U.N. Took Control in '99
By NICHOLAS WOOD

RISTINA, Kosovo, March 17 -- At least eight people were killed and more than 200 wounded in clashes between Albanians and Serbs across Kosovo on Wednesday, in what United Nations officials described as the worst violence in the province since they took over its administration almost five years ago.
The fighting erupted in midmorning in the divided city of Mitrovica after a protest over the drownings of at least two Albanian children. The protesters blamed Serbs for the deaths.
The province, in southern Serbia, is inhabited mostly by Albanians.
By nightfall the United Nations had lost control of several city centers, and mobs of Albanian men were attacking Serbian areas at will. In the provincial capital, Pristina, machine gunfire and explosions could be heard late into the night.
A United Nations police spokesman said the exact number of casualties was difficult to calculate because the police and peacekeeping troops had not re-established control.
"This is the severest case of unrest since the end of the war," said Derek Chappell, the chief United Nations police spokesman in Kosovo.
Although the province has experienced waves of violence since NATO peacekeepers arrived in June 1999, he said none had been as widespread as the clashes on Wednesday. "This is happening all over Kosovo," he said.

Full Story: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/18/international/europe/18KOSO.html?hp=&pagewanted=print&position=


Posted by bushmeister0 at 9:31 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004 9:52 PM EST
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