Sept 11 Journal

~ Sunday, January 26, 2003

Pol S11 Blog

NYT Editorial: “The Race to War”

The Times helps to confuse the issue by writing that, “No one who knows [Saddam Hussein’s] history can doubt that he is secretly trying to develop weapons of mass destruction.” While this has been repeatedly asserted by the Bush administration, no evidence that the Iraqi government has embarked on a secret program to develop nuclear (or chemical or biological weapons for that matter) has been presented anywhere. As Scott Ritter, former weapons inspector asserted in a recently published interview: by 1998 Iraq’s nuclear program was eliminated “and for Iraq to have reconstituted it would require undertaking activities eminently detectable by intelligence services."

Note: The quotation by Scott Ritter appears in the January 24, 2003 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Re Editorial 1/9/03, “The Revenge of Trent Lott” may be quite accurate in hinting that the renomination of Charles Pickering is a sop by the Bush White House to former Senate majority leader, Trent Lott. It might also be a shrewd political move a là Karl Rove in that it may allow the Democrats a pyrrhic victory while the great majority of the 28 judicial nominees blocked by the Democrat controlled Congress last year slide through with a minimum of opposition.


Paul Krugman’s very good op ed, “The Good Guys, (12.24.02) reminds us of the lesson we were taught in Frank Capra’s celebrated movie, "It’s a Wonderful Life.” which is often mistakenly and unfairly described in capsule reviews as the story of a suicidal man. The suicide episode should be viewed symbolically. It also generates some balancing humor focusing on Clarence, George’s bumbling guardian angel.

The George Bailey character, played by James Stewart, emerges in the film as the genuine American hero, someone who positively influences the lives of his family and his community. In one of the most powerful scenes, where the personal is combined with the political, the nightmarish alternate reality of what would have happened had George not been born is depicted, thus showing that the right people, in the right positions of power make all the difference.

Krugman manages in his op ed to show us that under the Bush II regime we are currently living in that nightmarish alternate reality. Here’s the beginning of his article.
Time magazine's persons of the year are three whistle-blowers: Sherron Watkins of Enron, Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom and Coleen Rowley of the F.B.I.

They deserve to be celebrated. After all, thanks to Ms. Watkins and Ms. Cooper, Jeff Skilling, Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers have been indicted, and the politicians who did their bidding have been disgraced. Thanks to Ms. Rowley, incompetent officials at the F.B.I. and C.I.A. have been removed from their posts, and we've had a searching inquiry into what went wrong on Sept. 11.

Oh, I'm sorry. None of that actually happened. The bravery of the whistle-blowers was real enough, but Time seems to be celebrating what should have been, not what was.

Dear Paul Krugman:
Thanks again for a great column, : “Quo Vadis, Karl? (12.20.02) and for mentioning the DiIulio memo again. It’s clearly the best insight so far as to what is really going on.
How about quoting more from the memo to give readers a sense of how things truly operate. The phrase – Mayberry Machievelli’s – is I think unfortunate is that for most readers it’s confusing; doesn’t describe anything that they can relate to.

I’m wondering if you think it would be helpful to summarize some of those paragraphs where he explains how there is no interest in Bush’s White House in researching solid information about domestic policy issues, and that those who tried were marginalized if not laughed at. Also, you might consider indicating that readers can find the memo on the web.

Editorial Desk | December 3, 2002, Tuesday
Hey, Lucky Duckies!

By PAUL KRUGMAN (NYT) 806 words
Late Edition - Final , Section A , Page 31 , Column 6
ABSTRACT - Paul Krugman Op-Ed column claims today's conservative movement is relentless and extremist; says recent Wall Street Journal editorial, calling for taxes on poorest Americans and tax cuts for wealthiest, reveals political theory that government policy should be 'nasty' to people with low incomes, lest they have any good feelings about government; says 'compassionate conservatism' and 'leave no child behind' are empty slogans; hopes moderate Republicans will realize what has happened to their party; says eventually public, which benefits from programs political right is determined to abolish, will figure that out (M)
Dear Paul Krugman:
Thanks for your wonderful work which seems only to be getting better and more pointed and clear. Special kudos for your recent Sunday Magazine piece which clearly exposed the dramatic change in the way wealth has been apportioned since the 80s. And for your “Hey, Lucky Duckies” column (12.3.02) which broke new ground in exposing the plan of the right in making government unworkable for the majority of the population.

In your column today on “’All These Problems’” (12.10.03) I was puzzled that you didn’t answer the question you so deftly posed, so I offer my answer in the form of a letter to the editor.

Paul Krugman is correct in suggesting that southern states like Mississippi are in the forefront of those who wish to roll back the Great Society and the New Deal because they perceive that some of these programs work to eliminate the structures of their segregationist past. At the same time Southerners are shrewdly aware that the political power of their Washington representatives will enable them to continue to collect a disproportionate share of Washington’s largesse even as help to the minority black and Latino population is eliminated.

"The Osirak Option," Nicholas Kristof, NYT, 11/15/02
Kristof does indeed get to the core of the issue of preemption with his argument that Begin was correct to bomb, but he would do well to examine further the reason that the action was universally condemned at the time.

"The Osirak Option," Nicholas Kristof, (Op-ed) 11/15/02 --Unpublished letter to the NYT

Kristof’s argument that Menachem Begin’s attack on Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 was justified despite universal condemnation makes sense only if we support Israel’s occupation and oppression of the Palestinians for the last 35 years. In that case, supporting Israel’s introduction of nuclear weapons into the Middle East is justified on the grounds that Israel requires such weapons in order maintain its dominance over those who might seek redress for the Palestinians. While Kristof’s argument for Israeli exceptionalism serves Zionism, the ideology of a Jewish state in the former Palestine, it flies in the face of justice, and as we continue to see, peace.

Recent articles in the U.S. press on U.S. war plans for Iraq suggest that U.S. military planners believe that the upcoming invasion of Iraq will amount to cakewalk, accomplishing the goal of removing Saddam Hussein, and taking complete control of Iraq within a month or less.

Observers should be prepared for the possibility that the U.S. military may achieve their goal. In such a case, Bush’s popularity at home would rise to all time highs, and even criticism abroad, including the Middle East, might be muted. In this case, demonstrations at home and abroad would wane. Also, another 9/11 style Al-Quaeda attack anywhere in the next two years, might also redound to Bush’s domestic benefit.

Dear Katherine Van Wormer,

Thanks for your very good article looking at the psychological forces driving GW Bush, which I saw in the Populist Progressive (‘Dry Drunk Syndrome and G.W. Bush,” Nov 15, 2002) I liked especially your quote from Fullbright. “The causes and consequences of war may have more to do with pathology than with politics…more to do with irrational pressures of pride and pain than with rational calculation of advantage and profit.”

I think the liberal war for oil folks have it all wrong. I belive that Bush and his arch right wing cabal of Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et. al, are transfixed by the ideology of fighting perpetual war.

I see his former drinking as the way he chose of dealing with feelings of inadequacy when he must have understood that he was considered a dimmer bulb than brother Jeb. I see him as having a problematic relationship with his father and thus the need to prove himself, as you suggest. I see him as a typical arch rightwinger, with no mind or agenda besides tax cuts and the military. Thus 9/11 fell into his lap like a blessing and he’s running with it as far as the world will let him.

I thought you might like to see a few paragraphs from my forthcoming article, Invading Iraq: The Road to Perpetual War.”

(see above)

Re Paul Krugman: In the Wilderness, 11/8/02;
I agree with Krugman’s assertion that the Democrats must have a message in order to compete effectively with the Republicans. But as he pointed out, the Republicans have a financial structural advantage: they have a lot more money to spend on campaigns. The Democrats have no distinct message because by and large they are forced to compete for money from the same sources that their opponents draw from.

Political cartoon; in NYTWR, 10.20.02
President Bush is speaking at a press conference: “That homicidal maniac must be stopped.” Reporter asks: “Which one?” Apparently the cartoon is referring to the sniper who was not caught until 10.24.02. But there was another meaning apparently lost on the cartoonist, as well as the Times which is that the reporter could have been talking about George W. Bush himself. That possibility was apparently outside the boundaries of discussion.

Dear Mr. Kristof:

Thanks for your excellent op ed “The Day After,” one of the best surely on the consequences of war with Iraq. I’m just wondering if you’ve come over to our side on this issue. Isn’t it clear that this adventure in conjunction with their new doctrine of preemption is a virtual declaration of war on the world’s great powers, especially Russia and China? If you were in charge of security for those countries, what would you be thinking and planning?

Ronald Bleier

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