Pontificator: News and Commentary

Saturday, April 12, 2003 :::
The New Cold Peace

Now that Bush junior has thumbed his nose at the United Nations, the “new world order” that Bush the elder was so eager to implement lies in ruins. Instead the future of geopolitics will probably feature a face-off between the United States on the one hand, and Russia, France and Germany on the other, each forming a power block to offset each others’ geopolitical interests. In terms of allies for the United States in this future “Cold Peace,” there are few. Britain will have trouble aligning with us as long as its public opinion remains so firmly anti-American. Japan has a strong interest in remaining with us, but also wants to stay on Russia’s good side, and wants good economic relations with the European Union.

In terms of competition between the two factions, France and Germany, the pillars of the European Union, loosely represent an economic market that, in the long run, could exceed that of the United States. Russia’s military and intelligence prowess is not to be messed with either, despite its faltering economy.

Ultimately, France, Germany and Russia may band together because, apart, they simply don’t have the clout to challenge the United States’ unilateral assertion of its own interests. Moreover, they’re probably sensing that the United States is not really in the mood to account for the interests of those who opposed them on Iraq. Together, however, the three could compete with us on a number of global economic and security issues in a manner that is unhealthy for our national interest.

On the other hand, a new cooperative government, such as one led by John Kerry or John Edwards, for instance, could persuade France, Germany and Russia that, as free-market democracies, our interests are all ultimately aligned and we’re better off working together than against each other. If elected, John Kerry (or any of the other Dems) could thus prevent this Cold Peace that Bush has created from lasting as long as the Cold War.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:28 AM

Friday, April 11, 2003 :::
Remember Anthrax?

According to today's Baltimore Sun, it appears that government investigators have finally succeeded in reverse-engineering the anthrax sent to Senators Daschle and Leahy in October 2001 and, surprise, have concluded it was most likely manufactured domestically in a make-shift lab:

Army scientists have reproduced the anthrax powder used in the 2001 mail attacks and concluded that it was made using simple methods, inexpensive equipment and limited expertise, according to government sources familiar with the work.

The findings reinforce the theory that has guided the FBI's 18-month-old investigation - that the mailed anthrax was probably produced by renegade scientists and not a military program such as Iraq's.

"It tends to support the idea that the anthrax came from a domestic source and probably not a state program," said David Siegrist, a bioterrorism expert at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. "It shows you can have a fairly sophisticated product with fairly rudimentary methods."

The most interesting part of the article, however, is this statement from New Jersey Congressman Russ J. Holt:

"Although I have been critical in the past of the conduct of the FBI's investigation, I am pleased to report today that the investigation seems to be making progress," Holt said. "The FBI has narrowed its search. That's about all I am permitted to say at this point."

It's hard to know exactly what this means, but perhaps the Anthrax investigation will be making some real news sometime soon.

::: posted by Pontificator at 11:45 AM

Thursday, April 10, 2003 :::
Arming the Imperium?

If the war's over, why are we moving several 21,000 pound MOAB bombs into the Gulf region?

MOAB stands for Massive Ordnance Air Blast, but it is known informally as the "mother of all bombs."

Developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where it was tested last month, the bomb is a larger version of the 15,000-pound "daisy cutter."

The "daisy cutter" was used in Vietnam to clear jungle for helicopter landing pads, in the 1991 Gulf War to clear minefields and in Afghanistan to clear caves and strike fear into al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters.

I don't think we really need the "Mother of all Bombs" to take out scattered pockets of Iraqi resistance. Perhaps the Coalition believes the final battle for Tikrit is going to be far tougher then expected. Or, perhaps, this is a not so subtle signal to Iran and Syria that they could be next.

::: posted by Pontificator at 1:36 AM

Wednesday, April 09, 2003 :::
Operation Iraqi Feel Good Phrase to Hide our True Imperialist Purposes

It's all well and good to be pleased, as Matthew Yglesias is, that, as by-product of our invasion of Iraq, the human rights condition of the Iraqi people may improve. That certainly might happen, and that would be a good thing.

However, the health of the Iraqi people is not the reason for the invasion, and, since that's not the reason, if our goals are otherwise met and human rights in Iraq do not improve, there's every reason to think that Bush and his pals will simply let things be.

How could this scenario come to pass? Oh. . . let's say a brutal tyrant grabs the reins of Iraq. And let's say that tyrant is someone in the vein of the tyrant currently in charge of Uzbekistan. Let's therefore posit that Iraq is taken over by someone who crushes all dissent, whether it be Shia or Kurd or Islamist, but who nevertheless manages to pay absolute fealty to his American benefactors. Let's also say that this cruel repressive tyrant gives the Americans all the best oil contracts, allows the Americans to spy on Iran and Syria, and allows the CIA and DoD to operate unfettered in the region.

Do you think we'd hear word one from the Bushies about the rights of the Iraqi people then? Do you think the Bush cheerleaders at Fox News would still care about IRAQI FREEDOM.


This operation is about furthering American interests in the region. My view is that, in this regard, the mission is a mistake, because the backlash from rank and file Arabs over having one of their countries occupied will far outweigh any benefit we might be able grab in an uncertain future in Iraq.

But that's neither here nor there. The point of this post is to stop everybody from congratulating themselves over what a wonderful unselfish thing we're doing for the people of Iraq by giving them their "freedom," when, in reality, that freedom is merely a Madison Avenue gimmick which will be thrown in the garbage along with the Iraqi people as soon as it's convenient to do so.

::: posted by Pontificator at 12:31 AM

Tuesday, April 08, 2003 :::
It Depends on What the Meaning of "At Will" Is . . .

According to Central Command, coalition forces can move through Baghdad "at will."

If that's the case, why didn't coalition forces immediately surround the building hit by yesterday's "leadership strike" on Saddam, after the B-1 dropped its Bunker Buster bombs, to mop up the operation and make sure Saddam didn't escape on foot?

In fact, coalition forces STILL do not appear to have secured the bomb site.

A good rule for following the war news -- watch what the troops do, not what they say. Although Fox News has already declared victory, my guess is the troops on the ground may beg to differ. . .

::: posted by Pontificator at 9:19 PM

New Bin Ladin Audio Tape

Osama's back, and he's echoing the superhawks.

"The United States has attacked Iraq and soon he will also attack Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Sudan," the speaker adds, in a suggestion that the recording was made in recent weeks.

Bin Laden must attend Defense Policy Board meetings, or maybe he just listens to James Woolsey.

::: posted by Pontificator at 2:13 PM

Monday, April 07, 2003 :::
Kerry Still Standing

This is good news. John Kerry continues to attack Bush and attack his disastrous foreign policy, despite the fact that we are "at war." Bush's political strategy is to cow his opponents into refraining from any criticism of him whatsoever, by attacking them (through surrogates mostly) as unpatriotic for doing so during a time of war. If Rumsfeld's recent pronouncements carry any meaning, Bush may try to extend this strategy all the way through the 2004 election, by starting new wars with Iran and Syria. We have to show him now that that strategy will fail. You see, that's the only language these bullies understand -- brute force. Luckily, John Kerry seems to understand this:

U.S. Sen. John Kerry continued his vociferous criticism of the Bush administration's wartime foreign policy yesterday as he began a campaign swing through Iowa.

Speaking to a group of Democratic activists at a reception in a private home here, the presidential hopeful charged the administration with being ``irresponsible to the nth'' degree in allowing the situation in North Korea to ``fester.''

Kerry argued that the White House should restart a dialogue with the country, even as it fights the war with Iraq.

``There are a lot of people in Washington and elsewhere who believe that one of the reasons the administration won't do that is that you need a boogeyman over there in order to be able to build a missile defense,'' he said.

. . .

Kerry came under fire last week for saying that the United States, like Iraq, needs ``regime change,'' comments Republican critics used to try to cast Kerry as unpatriotic.

During the first day of a swing through the key caucus state, Kerry said the GOP ``picked the wrong guy to push around.''

Kerry suggested that former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and former presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis would have fared better if they had fought back against Republican criticism of their patriotism.

``If I'm prepared to fight back, and I am . . . then let them come at me,'' Kerry said.

If Kerry sticks to his guns, he may very well have my vote in the Democratic primary.

::: posted by Pontificator at 4:18 PM


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