Thursday, February 01, 2007

Clock Is Ticking on Iran

"Were our goal to persuade the Iranian regime to hasten its nuclear race while binding it more closely to a weary and discontented populace, it is hard to see how we could be more effective."

- Jacob Weisberg, editor,

Stressing the importance of diplomacy with Iran, the wise Jacob Weisberg has little good to say about the current position of the Bush administration:
Jeane Kirkpatrick, who died in December, first became famous for an article she wrote arguing that former president Jimmy Carter’s emphasis on human rights helped bring down the shah and usher in the Iranian revolution. As ambassador to the United Nations during Ronald Reagan’s first term, Ms Kirkpatrick herself eloquently challenged the legitimacy of totalitarian regimes. After the fall of communism, opposition leaders throughout eastern Europe and the Soviet Union testified that western encouragement – including from the BBC and Radio Free Europe – had advanced their struggle for liberation.

Mr Bush pays lip service to such sentiments, often hailing the greatness of the Iranian people and endorsing their assumed desire for freedom. But, for the past three years, the president has failed to mention in public the name of Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s Nobel Prize-winning human rights lawyer. Ms Ebadi is the closest thing Iran has to an Andrei Sakharov, but she is also a critic of the US administration. Because of sanctions, it took a lawsuit against the Treasury department for her to publish her memoirs in the US. No one in the White House raised a finger on her behalf.

But perhaps it would be worse if they had. Mr Bush, who has managed to make democracy a dirty word in many parts of the world, may at this point retain only the ability to taint by association liberal heroes who fight tyranny.

The only encouraging news is that Mr Bush’s own clock, with just 103 weeks left to run, is ticking even faster than the other two.

[Financial Times LINK]

Casey Pays Price For Rejecting McCain Doctrine

General George Casey has paid a price for rejecting the McCain Doctrine in Iraq. Josh Marshall puts it this way:

This is precious. Apparently Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is going to go after outgoing Iraq commander Gen. George Casey in his nomination hearings to become the next Chief of Staff of the Army.

Said Sen. McCain: ""I have very serious concerns about General Casey's nomination. I'm concerned about failed leadership, the message that sends to the rest of the military."

'Failed leadership' here, of course, is code for toeing the Bush line for the last two years and then resisting the new effort to dig the US even deeper into the mess of Iraq. In other words, Casey becomes the lamb in whose blood the sins of the Iraq War dead-enders (Bush, McCain, et al.) are washed clean.

Comic, Orwellian, so many possible descriptions.

Some people are saying that General Casey shouldn't have toed the line for Bush as long as he did. I ask you - where's General Petraeus right now? Why isn't he speaking out honestly? (I'm sorry, but I don't suspect that he is, and there are many reasons for that, I suppose, given his position.) When the McCain Doctrine falls apart, what will we have gained by giving the faintest praise to McCain for treating General Casey in this manner? He'll just do the same thing to General Petraeus when this surge fails to cover for a *ramped-up version* of the same worst foreign policy I could imagine - a policy on which John McCain is putting his permanent stamp.

* example of what I mean by "ramped-up version":
"US President George W Bush's State of the Union address appears to confirm other indications in recent weeks that he is not merely sending more troops to Iraq to do more of the same, but has adopted a new strategy of fighting all three major Iraqi Arab political-military forces simultaneously." [link to Bush's Three-Front Blunder]

A year ago, I wrote about an inner-military argument that was occurring under the radar. It relates to General Casey in that, one short year ago, he was still willingly denying that a civil war with armed militias were threatening any chance for what anyone could come close to calling "success" in Iraq. Here's the rub, though. The Generals who were coming through at that time and saying something true about the actual facts on the ground one year ago were removed or are now "retired."

From Karen Kwiatkowski [as quoted at my Rational Liberal blog at a year ago]:
"The cost in human lives, spirit, and hope on all sides, as well as the financial cost may not have been worth it for those "piling on" and going "defeatist" in the reality based world, but who cares? The reality-based world is an ugly place. The Casey-said, Sanchez-said debate prefigures a year ahead that may be remembered as the year the reality-based world rudely intruded on the Potomac, shattering what is left of the facade and completely exploding the myth that Bush-Cheney policies have made either the Middle East more democratic, or America safer." [link]
Dr. Kwiatkowski knew exactly what she was talking about then, and we can see where this is going now. Generals John Abizaid and George Casey were skeptical of a troop "surge" and they were removed and blamed.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

John Edwards and a New Populist Strategy for Democrats

Thom Hartmann has an interesting piece titled "Join the Parade For We the People" in which he credits Senator John Edwards as being the first Presidential candidate to "get" that it's just not enough to sit around and wait for our leaders to do things. John Edwards has said that we, the People, must be guiding the leaders, and he's encouraging all of us to do so.

In a new part of a definitive Nation series on Southern politics, Bob Moser suggests that Democrats can tap into a new populist strategy in the region. The "new" poluism will involve getting voters to coalesce around issues of economic fairness instead of white cultural unity. Moser shows how Republicans have been "preaching their divisive cultural populism to Southerners in a virtual echo chamber" while Democrats have barely talked to Southerners. In his words,
Rather than diverging from national political patterns, Southerners continue their post-Jim Crow evolution toward the American mainstream. And Democrats continue to run screaming in the other direction.
Moser talks briefly about NC8's 2006 Congressional candidate Larry Kissell who was slighted by the DCCC and "had to make do with some backing from the netroots and John Edwards." (Even I, an Upstate New Yorker, did my own small part). Bottom line, Moser makes the point that, as long as Democrats continue to "surrender" the South, they'll be abandoning "the old hope of a durable national progressive majority" because the characteristics of almost half of the voters who've embraced populism in the entirety of America are found in voters from the South. Michigan for Edwards has more commentary about the Nation piece, mentioning that the Democrats might also be successful in the Midwest with this strategy.
Moser's new article debunks the myths perpetuated by the DLC and national pundits, skewering John Kerry's "anti-Southern strategy" and Thomas Schaller's "Whistling Past Dixie" and advocating a new Democratic Populism to win back not only large sections of the South, but also solidify the Midwest.

Brzezinski Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations Comm.

The Washington Note has an exclusive on testimony to be given tomorrow morning by Carter-era national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Read this line:

"One should note here also that practically no country in the world shares the Manichean delusions that the Administration so passionately articulates. The result is growing political isolation of, and pervasive popular antagonism toward the U.S. global posture."

He goes on to offer steps toward reaching a political solution:

The quest for a political solution for the growing chaos in Iraq should involve four steps:

1. The United States should reaffirm explicitly and unambiguously its determination to leave Iraq in a reasonably short period of time.

Ambiguity regarding the duration of the occupation in fact encourages unwillingness to compromise and intensifies the on-going civil strife. Moreover, such a public declaration is needed to allay fears in the Middle East of a new and enduring American imperial hegemony. Right or wrong, many view the establishment of such a hegemony as the primary reason for the American intervention in a region only recently free of colonial domination. That perception should be discredited from the highest U.S. level. Perhaps the U.S. Congress could do so by a joint resolution.

2. The United States should announce that it is undertaking talks with the Iraqi leaders to jointly set with them a date by which U.S. military disengagement should be completed, and the resulting setting of such a date should be announced as a joint decision. In the meantime, the U.S. should avoid military escalation.

It is necessary to engage all Iraqi leaders -- including those who do not reside within "the Green Zone" -- in a serious discussion regarding the proposed and jointly defined date for U.S. military disengagement because the very dialogue itself will help identify the authentic Iraqi leaders with the self-confidence and capacity to stand on their own legs without U.S. military protection. Only Iraqi leaders who can exercise real power beyond “the Green Zone” can eventually reach a genuine Iraqi accommodation. The painful reality is that much of the current Iraqi regime, characterized by the Bush administration as "representative of the Iraqi people," defines itself largely by its physical location: the 4 sq. miles-large U.S. fortress within Baghdad, protected by a wall in places 15 feet thick, manned by heavily armed U.S. military, popularly known as "the Green Zone."

3. The United States should issue jointly with appropriate Iraqi leaders, or perhaps let the Iraqi leaders issue, an invitation to all neighbors of Iraq (and perhaps some other Muslim countries such as Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, and Pakistan) to engage in a dialogue regarding how best to enhance stability in Iraq in conjunction with U.S. military disengagement and to participate eventually in a conference regarding regional stability.

The United States and the Iraqi leadership need to engage Iraq's neighbors in serious discussion regarding the region's security problems, but such discussions cannot be undertaken while the U.S. is perceived as an occupier for an indefinite duration. Iran and Syria have no reason to help the United States consolidate a permanent regional hegemony. It is ironic, however, that both Iran and Syria have lately called for a regional dialogue, exploiting thereby the self-defeating character of the largely passive -- and mainly sloganeering -- U.S. diplomacy.

A serious regional dialogue, promoted directly or indirectly by the U.S., could be buttressed at some point by a wider circle of consultations involving other powers with a stake in the region’s stability, such as the EU, China, Japan, India, and Russia. Members of this Committee might consider exploring informally with the states mentioned their potential interest in such a wider dialogue.

4. Concurrently, the United States should activate a credible and energetic effort to finally reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace, making it clear in the process as to what the basic parameters of such a final accommodation ought to involve.

this Pres.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Nagin asks: What About New Orleans?

Allow me to share with you Time Online's Quote of the Day:

Photo by Iddybud Inc
"And then I look at what we're doing in Iraq and how we spend money at an unprecedented level there... and we have this dance going on in New Orleans."

whose city is still waiting for almost $200 million from FEMA

For those of you who haven't been able to see it for themselves, here are some photos taken by family and friends just last week in New Orleans:

This photo's not a
- at least
not for
human bones.

It looks
like a graveyard, though, doesn't it? Houses once rested on these foundations.

Ghosts are all that remain.

Time Mag Forwards Idea I Gave You Long Ago

Walter Isaacson at TIME online is talking about an idea I wrote about a long time ago. I think it's a good idea. Why wouldn't I? I came up with it a long time ago.

That's why I'm "the idea person." I'll collect my paycheck in Heaven. ;)

Walter Isaacson writes:
Now faced with a new global threat, that of terrorism from Islamist extremists, we could sure use some of that type of creative and bold thinking. What would George Marshall and Dean Acheson be doing now? At the top of their list, I suspect, would be forging a new version of NATO. They might call it MATO: the Mideast Antiterrorism Organization, a military, police, intelligence and security mutual-defense alliance between the West and our moderate allies in the Middle East.

This MATO alliance would include the countries that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, on her recent trip to the region, referred to as the "mainstream" and "moderate" Arab nations: Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the gulf states. These nations are as threatened as we are by the rise of Iran and of Islamist radicalism.

This was me all the way back in November, 2005 in a piece at Blogcritics magazine titled Change the Course in Iraq:
It begins:


President Bush Stuns the World - Announces An End to the Occupation of Iraq and a New World Organization for the Benefit of Civility in Iraq and Beyond...

An excerpt:

President Bush tells us that he realizes that the US occupation must end now, and he insists that Iraq must be policed by its own citizens here and now. But the Iraqis will not be able to do it alone - not today - not six months from now - probably not even six years from now.

Iraqis will still need help, but the US can't shoulder that burden alone - and the strategic course must change drastically without doing further harm to the security of Iraq's civilian population and infrastructure. We look back on what we've done and see the immoral ramifications. It's heartbreaking - and it's been ineffective. Too many dead civilians, too many orphans, too many towns destroyed, too many lives ruined and disrupted, no possibility (because of the lack of security) for nongovernmental organizations to do the real work of rebuilding lives or supporting the building of a new democracy.

A New World Organization and A New Global Institute For Anti-Terrorism - Police vs. Militarization

This must be an international policing effort with multilateral authorization - based on international law. Terrorist movements and finances must be monitored and their ranks must be infiltrated. These thugs must never be allowed to get their hands on nuclear weapons. The governments of Middle Eastern countries must become convinced that it is in their best interests to eliminate the threat of terror in their own countries and to join the international effort. Bush admits that the US can't police Iraq on a unilateral basis and that the military occupation is no longer effective. Rather than pulling out American troops and continuing a US-led air war with errant bombings that kill thousands more innocent Iraqi civilians, he announces a new global alliance against terrorist groups. This new organization will be led by the US and it will be called the World Anti-Terrorism Organization (WATO).

A new think-tank for the global effort to end terror will also be established, with the best diplomatic and academic minds working on real solutions, in conjunction with the United Nations, to support democracy while attacking the complicated root causes of terror - such as human rights, world hunger, the lack of education, and disease. It will be called GIFT - Global Institute for the Freedom from Terrorism.

Islamic Fundamentalists Join the Debate

The regimes of Syria and Iran, which have caused many problems for citizens within their respective nations who desire a more free and democratic society, would be far more intimidated by a Middle East that was prepared to act, with allied affirmation against those who employ the tactics of terror, in a multilateral effort to protect innocent civilians in Iraq as they work toward building a society they have not yet had a chance to experience. There are many Islamic fundamentalists who do not share the terrorists' commitment to violence. They could be the most important and instrumental group in putting down terrorism and dissuading those who would join the ranks of the terrorists. Iranian and Syrian citizens do not like the tactics of Al Qaeda anymore than any civil human being likes them. The world, acting as one, could be a light to these citizens and much more of a threat to totalitarian theocratic regimes. Bush will decide to pull back American-led forces in the areas close to the Syrian border, because it is doing nothing but fueling the insurgency in Iraq. Iraq will be unable to function normally until the insurgency is brought under control and history has shown that a conventional military power will never defeat a guerrilla force without the support of its indigenous people. That is where the international focus must be.

Having made an unfortunate mess of the training (and the speed of training) of the Iraqi security forces up to this juncture, priority could be put on training more and more Iraqi forces - and many WATO nations could host and participate in this effort, with the US in the lead. An immediate and clear plan for training Iraq's troops, along with definite timetables for certain benchmarks to be met will be required.

When President Bush contemplates the difference between what the US troops leaving "precipitously" vs. what leaving "responsibly" means, he sees that every moral person understands that you don't just pick up stakes and leave the country, but the time has come to plan a withdrawal with a responsible plan for the international police effort. If a battle was ever worth fighting, or if a a war was ever worth winning, the American people have always known what they have to do, and they've done it boldly, decisively, with courage and ferocity. We would do it in Iraq, if it was truly an American war, an American value, or an American interest. The battle is not - and has never been for America alone, and Bush finally realizes that we never should have taken it on as such - especially when bad intelligence was politically manipulated to fit the policy in order to gain the American public's trust - and fear was used to mold public opinion. Bush finally sees that it is in the world's best interest that terrorism is put down and its root causes are addressed - and most importantly, this big idea transcends all partisan politics.

- Jude Nagurney Camwell
Blogcritics Magazine
November 2005

The Blind Suzanne Fields

Syndicated columnist Suzanne Fields has a problem that is symptomatic of many political writers in the mainstream media today. She isn't looking at reality from a standpoint of an American. Instead, she's promoting magical thinking from the standpoint of a ideologue who is blind to any idea she deems a threat to the borders of her ideology. It's one of the most dangerous viewpoints to buy into, and fewer Americans today - fewer than ever - are buying into it.

Fields' journalistic attempt to raise President George W. Bush and Newt Gingrich to the level of a Biblical prophet is incredibly insulting to the sensibilities of most Americans who envision a better world and share common values, especially when she lends her opinion that those inspired by the Koran subscribe to an Apocalyptic belief, knowing fully well that a fundamentalist's view of the Bible is no different. What is doubly insulting is that Fields is appealing for us to bind together while employing a stark ideological rationale. Ms. Field reaches for the lowest common denominator to make a ludicrous point.

An obvious partisan who will say just about anything to punish a non-Republican, Fields is willing to brazenly trash the longstanding American tradition of foreign-policy diplomacy in order to support a small group of people who hijacked that traditional foreign policy when George W. Bush was shoe-horned into power and whose collective ideology, up to this time, has proven to to a bitter failure in action, stoking the fires of extremism in our world for six long years - generating war where war never had to happen.

Fields should be ashamed of writing a piece of trash like this column, but I'm sure she would never see it that way. There are none so blind as those who will not see. If this opinion sounds particularly strong to you, it's because I'm sick and tired of colunmists who are so irresponsible that they would employ such garbage reasoning in their mainstream journalism, and I'm angry with our country's print news papers for printing such trash. When you subscribe to a prophecy of doom, all you get is more doom. We need idea political columnists who are not cheerleading magical-thinking dolts whose imaginations are only as wide as their ideological borders.


- Calling Mitt Romney a prophet for what amounts to making equivocal statements when contrasting Russian communism with extremism in the Middle East.

- Calling McCain a prophet for wanting to pull Israel into NATO at the worst possible time in history to do so. (Walter Isaacson and I have a much better idea - when are we going into the Bible with Newt 'n Mitt, already??)

- Calling Bush a prophet because his unforgiveable failures are "unpopular" now, but maybe someday...

- Attacking John Edwards for daring to state the glaringly obvious - we need to pull all nations in the region into diplomatic dealings.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dedicated to Barbaro


I can't begin to tell you how sad I am after hearing about Barbaro today.

Born in the valley
And raised in the trees
Of western kentucky
On wobbly knees
With mama beside you
To help you along
Youll soon be a growing up strong.

All the long, lazy mornings
In pastures of green
The sun on your withers
The wind in your mane
Could never prepare you
For what lies ahead
The run for the roses so red --

And its run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moments at hand
Its the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And its high time you joined
In the dance
Its high time you joined
In the dance --

From sire to sire
Its born in the blood
The fire of a mare
And the strength of a stud
Its breeding and its training
And its something unknown
That drives you and carries
You home.

And its run for the roses
As fast as you can
Your fate is delivered
Your moments at hand
Its the chance of a lifetime
In a lifetime of chance
And its high time you joined
In the dance
Its high time you joined
In the dance --

From the song Run for the Roses by Dan Folgelberg

Libby Trial Reveals Likely Conscious Effort to Out CIA

Update on the Scooter Libby trial. It appears that Patrick Fitzgerald did an adept job of developing his case against Scooter Libby in the context that Libby was covering for others in what is getting harder each day to believe, in light of testimony being presented, that there wasn't a conscious and likely malicious group effort to out a covert CIA employee (Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph R. Wilson IV). Libby's defenses are systematically being laid to waste.

Today, former WH Press Secretary Ari Fleischer became the first Bush administration official to have testified under oath to have known Valerie Wilson's maiden name -- the name under which she worked as a covert agent -- before Robert Novak announced it to the world in his Chicago Sun-Times column.

Former State department deputy Richard Armitage says he told Novak about Plame's identity on July 8. Armitage wasn't charged, allegedly because he didn't know Plame was covert. He said that he learned about Plame from a classified memo that did not mention that she was undercover.

Ari Fleischer will admit that he knew Plame's last name on July 7, the day before.

Worse, a commentator at Daily Kos today reveals this nugget:
This meeting with Libby was the FIRST TIME EVER that Libby had asked to [have lunch] with Ari. Not very good for Scooter's "this Plame thing was so insignificant that I honestly just forgot about where I heard her name" defense.
Hmmmm.....and Michael Isikoff is reporting that
Libby told him not just that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, but that she worked at the counter-proliferations division. That was a particular detail that is significant to people who know about the CIA. The counter-proliferations division is in the Director of Operations. That's the secret arm of the CIA. It's the most sensitive arm of the CIA. Something that Libby and his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, very well knew. They knew the CIA like the back of their hands.

While Novak has defensively claimed that he committed no 'great crime' by outing the CIA employee's full name, he has also averred that he was not the recipient of a planned leak, and I'm certainly not convinced, when looking at the big picture, that there is a fullness of truth to Mr. Novak's latter comment. He could not possibly be an authoritative witness to "intent." I don't have a clue how he could be an authority on that statement at all.

Marcy Wheeler has live coverage of the Fleischer testimony at Firedoglake.

Kevin Aylward has some more on the trial today.
*Warning - the comments below his posting from blog participants have amazingly little to actually do with the facts - or even the trial itself.

Quote from Fleischer, regarding some information he passed to the press while they waited on the side of a road in Uganda - about who sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger (naming his wife and the fact that she worked for CIA):
I never would have thought this was classified. never in my wildest dreams believed this involved, as I've read since, this involved a covert officer.
...If you think about it, Ari Fleischer wasn't initimately involved in National Security issues (including making visits to the CIA as a particular VICE PRESIDENT and his staff did). In my opinion, there's no reason Ari would necessarily be charged with possessing the same level of knowledge about the fine distinctions about the CPD [Counterproliferation Division] in terms of what constituted "classified" employment. Yet, it seems he was anxious to get that information out to the press....feeling pressured, perhaps?