Monday, December 20, 2004

What would the world be like if Rumsfeld had never been born?

What would the world look like if Donald Rumsfeld had never been born? Check out this hilarious editorial from the NY Times: “Sam Nunn. He's the defense secretary. Sam consults with Congress. Never acts arrogant or misleads them. He didn't banish the generals who challenged him - he promoted 'em. And, of course, he caught Osama back in '01. He threw 100,000 troops into Afghanistan on 9/11 and sealed the borders. Our Special Forces trapped the evildoer and his top lieutenants at Tora Bora. You weren't at that cabinet meeting the day after 9/11, so nobody suggested going after Saddam. No American troops died or were maimed in Iraq. No American soldiers tortured Iraqis in Abu Ghraib. No Iraqi explosives fell into the hands of terrorists. There's no office of disinformation to twist perception abroad. We're not on the cusp of an Iraq run by Muslim clerics tied to Iran…Sam never hired any of those wacko neocons. Wolfowitz is a woolly headed professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a consultant to Ariel Sharon. Richard Perle was never in charge of the Defense Policy Board, so he was unable to enrich himself through government connections, or help Ahmad Chalabi con the administration. Perle stayed an honest man, running a chain of soufflé shops. His soufflés were so fluffy he became known as the Prince of Lightness. Doug Feith never worked here, either, so he never set up the Office of Special Plans to spin tall tales about W.M.D. and Qaeda ties to Saddam. And he never bungled the occupation because there was no occupation…Dick and Lynne run a bait, tackle and baton-twirling shop in Casper, Wyo. You didn't exist, so you never gave him those jobs in the Nixon and Ford administrations, and he never ran for Congress or worked for Bush 41 or anointed himself 43's vice president. W. chose Chuck Hagel as his running mate. So without you and Dick there to dominate him, he was guided by his dad and Brent Scowcroft, who kept Condi in line. Colin Powell was never cut off at the knees and the U.N. and allies were never bullied. There was never any crazy fever about Iraq or unilateralism or "Old Europe."

Violence in Iraqi Shia cities has escalated as election looms near. From
Informed Comment: “Guerrillas detonated a huge bomb near the bus station in Karbala on Sunday, destroying several minibuses and leaving dead and wounded. Then an hour later, guerrillas set off another big explosion, this time in downtown Najaf, at a funeral procession. The bomb exploded just yards away from where the American-appointed governor, Adnan Zurfi, and his police chief, Ghalib al-Jazairi, were standing. In Najaf, 30 persons were killed and about 45 wounded…The geography of the attacks continues to suggest that the guerrillas are attempting to provoke Shiite on Sunni violence as a way of disrupting stability. Likewise, they are attempting to demonstrate that they can effectively torpedo any attempt to hold elections. If they can bomb so brazenly in the holy cities, where locals are watchful and where US troops had fought so recently to clear out the Mahdi Army then they can bomb at will anywhere. The 9000 polling stations planned for January 30 cannot possibly be guarded from such attacks…In contrast to the violence in West Baghdad and in the shrine cities, in Sadr City or the slums of Shiite East Baghdad, relative calm has prevailed for weeks, allowing the US to do some community development work, including clearing trash from the streets. The Sadr movement is strong in East Baghdad, but Sadr has declared neutrality toward the upcoming elections, while many Shiites are hopeful that they will produce a Shiite-dominated government that will pave the way for the end of the US occupation. As a result of these hopes, along with a past campaign of US bombing that made it clear it would not put up with armed militiamen patrolling the streets, the situation has been quiet in the vast slum. I don't want to take anything away from these necessary development projects, but merely collecting the trash is not that big an accomplishment, and shouldn't be seen as a triumph this late in the day.”

When the UN is coming under crticism for scandals regarding the oil-for-food program, I came across this really disturbing article in the
NY Times about abuse by UN peacekeepers: “The United Nations said recently that it had uncovered 150 allegations of sexual abuse committed by United Nations peacekeepers stationed in Congo, many of them here in Bunia where the population has already suffered horrendous atrocities committed by local fighters. The raping of women and girls is an all-too-common tactic in the war raging in Congo's eastern jungles involving numerous militia groups. In Bunia, a program run by Unicef has treated 2,000 victims of sexual violence in recent months. But it is not just the militia members who have been preying on the women. So, too, local women say, have some of the soldiers brought in to keep the peace. The United Nations secretary general, Kofi Annan, said recently that there was "clear evidence that acts of gross misconduct have taken place" in the United Nations mission in Congo, which began in early 2000 and is known by its French acronym, Monuc. Mr. Annan added, "This is a shameful thing for the United Nations to have to say, and I am absolutely outraged by it." The number of cases may be impossible for United Nations investigators to determine precisely…The allegations leveled against United Nations personnel in Congo include sex with underage partners, sex with prostitutes and rape, an internal United Nations investigation has found. Investigators said they found evidence that United Nations peacekeepers and civilian workers paid $1 to $3 for sex or bartered sexual relations for food or promises of employment.”

Regarding airline security from the Washington Post: “Passengers will have a way to appeal if their name turns up on the government's no-fly list, under provisions of the intelligence bill signed into law yesterday. The law requires the Transportation Security Administration to create a system for travelers to correct inaccurate information that has landed them on the no-fly list. It also directs the Department of Homeland Security to create a Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to ensure that anti-terrorist government actions do not infringe on people's rights. The provisions, among several airline security improvements in the bill, follow a series of embarrassing incidents in which hundreds of private citizens and some members of Congress were initially denied boarding because their names were flagged by a TSA computer security system that maintains the government's watch lists.” A related article from the NY Times states, “It is a high tribute to the judicial systems of the United States and Britain that they have not followed politicians in using the threat of terror as a reason to erode fundamental democratic values. First, the United States Supreme Court proclaimed last June that war was not a "blank check for the president," and ruled that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay must be allowed to challenge their detention before a neutral decision-maker. Now the highest legal authority in Britain, the Law Lords, has ruled that international law does not permit the indefinite detention of foreign terrorism suspects. And it sternly declared that laws abridging liberties posed a greater threat to a democracy than terrorism itself.”

In other news, more changes in the intelligence community from NY Times: “The Pentagon is drawing up a plan that would give the military a more prominent role in intelligence-collection operations that have traditionally been the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, including missions aimed at terrorist groups and those involved in weapons proliferation, Defense Department officials say. The proposal is being described by some intelligence officials as an effort by the Pentagon to expand its role in intelligence gathering at a time when legislation signed by President Bush on Friday sets in motion sweeping changes in the intelligence community, including the creation of a national intelligence director. The main purpose of that overhaul is to improve coordination among the country's 15 intelligence agencies, including those controlled by the Pentagon. The proposal also calls for a major expansion of human intelligence, which is information gathered by spies rather than by technological means, both within the military services and the Defense Intelligence Agency, including more missions aimed at acquiring specific information sought by policy makers. The proposal is the latest chapter in the fierce and long-running rivalry between the Pentagon and the C.I.A. for dominance over intelligence collection. White House officials are monitoring the Pentagon's planning, as is the C.I.A. The proposal has not yet won White House approval, according to administration officials. It is unclear to what extent American military forces have already been given additional authority to carry out intelligence-gathering missions.”