Foreign Policy News and Commentary, August 6, 2007
Footage of the video on SWORDS ("special weapons observation remote
reconnaissance direct action system") in action; from Christina Davidson,
'Battle Zone: Armed Robots Join the Battle in Iraq; Army Quietly Testing First
Three SWORDS in the Combat Zone' (IraqSlogger, August 3)
NO SURRENDER - BRUCE CHAPMAN (SEATTLE TIMES, AUGUST 5): If we lose in Iraq,
the central front of the war on terror, the people who urged our withdrawal will
start to call for an exit from Afghanistan next. Instead of calling it quits,
our government needs to do a much better job of public diplomacy in the world --
explaining what's at stake.
IS THE 'GLOBAL WAR ON TERROR' PHONY? (POLITICALWARFARE.ORG: EMPLOYING
WORDS, IMAGES AND IDEAS TO WIN THE CURRENT WORLD WAR, AUGUST 5): The Bush
Administration has a can't-do attitude when it comes to fighting ideological
warfare. It seems to want to, but it won't. It's manifest at every level of
government -- from the White House to the lowliest contractor in the field.
Policymakers seem to default to the feckless public diplomacy shop at the State
Department. The Pentagon won't let its information operations people say
anything much about Islam, and its public affairs officers keep illegally
invoking a Cold War law that applies only to the State Department, as if to
ensure that we don't fight the propaganda war we need to be waging.
WAR OF IDEAS: BIN LADEN, TERRORISM MAY BE GOING OUT OF STYLE GADGETS
(POLITICS, AUGUST 4): Muslim extremists, it seems, are losing ground in one of
the most important battlefields of this conflict: the war of ideas. We certainly
cannot give Washington credit for what looks like the first signs of an emerging
trend toward moderation. American efforts at public diplomacy have invited
ridicule. The most likely explanation is that there is, after all, something
human about human beings. In the end, most people are revolted by the savagery
NEXT US LEADER 'MUST REACH OUT TO MUSLIMS' - ARVIND NAR (GULF TIMES, AUGUST
20: According to analyst Hady Amr, the author of the 2004 Brookings analysis
paper 'The Need to Communicate: How to Improve US Public Diplomacy with the
Islamic World,' to win the war of ideas with those advocating violence against
America and Americans, the US must act quickly to rebuild the shattered
foundations of understanding between the US and predominantly Muslim states and
CAN U.S. PUBLIC DIPLOMACY SURVIVE THE FOREIGN POLICY PRONOUNCEMENTS OF
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES? SUCH AS BARACK OBAMA'S TALK OF INVADING PAKISTAN, OR
TOM TANCREDO'S THREAT TO BOMB MECCA - (KIM ANDREW ELLIOTT DISCUSSING
INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING AND PUBLIC DIPLOMACY, ITEM POSTED AUGUST 5), latest
OBAMA AS THE NEW KENNEDY. AND NOT IN A GOOD WAY ... - JUSTIN RAIMONDO
(ANTIWAR.COM, AUGUST 3): The Kennedy-esque undertone of Obama's campaign is made
quite explicit: "I will also launch a program of public diplomacy that is a
coordinated effort across my Administration, not a small group of political
officials at the State Department explaining a misguided war. We will open
'America Houses' in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries,
English lessons, stories of America's Muslims and the strength they add to our
country, and vocational programs. Through a new 'America's Voice Corps' we will
recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can
speak with -- and listen to -- the people who today hear about us only from our
enemies." Shades of the Peace Corps, and the "idealism" of exporting
"Americanism" worldwide, "selling" ourselves and our way of life to a grateful
GUANTANAMO, THE DAY AFTER - CORINE HEGLAND (NATIONAL JOURNAL, AUGUST 3):
Regarding Guantanamo, Benjamin Wittes, a fellow and the research director in
public law at the Brookings Institution, says, "The problem is not an optical
problem. It's not a public diplomacy problem. The problem is that we don't have
a legal regime. Building a legal regime is a very separate question from whether
you choose to do it in Guantanamo Bay or somewhere else."
OUTCRY AS BRITISH COUNCIL QUITS EUROPE TO WOO MUSLIM WORLD - HELENA SMITH,
(OBSERVER, AUGUST 5): Across Europe, half a century of promoting British culture
and values is slowly being wound down in favour of a huge increase in funding
for activities in the Middle East and Muslim world. Iraq, Afghanistan and
Bangladesh are among 'high priority' regions that will also receive a 50 per
cent boost in support for projects to steer Muslims away from extremism. And as
the British Council's physical presence in Europe is cut back, public access
buildings, some recently renovated at spectacular cost, will close.
AMERICAN MIS[E]-EN-SCENE? - BURAK BEKDÝL(TURKISH DAILY NEWS, AUGUST 3):
Rumor has it that American and Turkish bigwigs planned a joint major blow on the
PKK in which the PKK's wing leaders would have been captured. The rumor also
goes that the planned operation failed only because some unknown American(s)
leaked the plan to one of the jewels of the American press (Robert D. Novak,
'Bush's Turkish Gamble,' July 30, 2007, Washington Post). The possible public
diplomacy effort surrounding this Washington Post story reminds one of skillful
American strategic planning, which is rare these days.
LETTER FROM WASHINGTON: FIRST SALVOS ON FOREIGN POLICY SHED LIGHT ON AN
AMERICAN PROBLEM ALBERT R. HUNT (INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, AUGUST 5):
Global anti-American sentiments extend beyond security and military issues.
There are widespread complaints about the U.S. posture on the environment, a
growing concern to people in most countries. This is part of the complaint that
American leaders simply don't care what others think.
POPULARITY CONTEST: WHY THEY HATE, AND LIKE, US - VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
(NATIONAL REVIEW, AUGUST 5): How strange that poor countries in Africa, Eastern
Europe, and South America are more favorable to America than are oil-rich
sheikdoms, rich European socialist republics, and Middle East recipients of
massive U.S. aid. Or perhaps it's not so strange at all. The more confident a
nation is, even when poor, the more likely it seems to admire America.
HOW INDIA SEES AMERICA - AMAR C. BAKSHI (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 2):
America's most important role in India is perhaps the ideals it stands for. But
as a country, Indians complain, America bows to no one, and cannot be trusted.
NEW AL-QAEDA VIDEO WARNS U.S. MISSIONS 'LEGITIMATE TARGETS' RFE/RL (AUGUST
5): A new video from a wanted American member of Al-Qaeda warned that U.S.
diplomatic missions were "legitimate targets" for terrorists.
MAKING THE GREEN ZONE A BETTER PLACE - AL KAMEN (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 3):
The US embassy in Baghdad has issued several notices regarding "duck and cover"
procedures, and it seems that people must have fretted about not having cover to
duck into. Help is on the way, as President Bush liked to say during the 2000
campaign. "We have ordered an additional 60 bunkers, 40 of which are for the NEC
(New Embassy Compound)," Ambassador Ryan Crocker said, "for a total of 151
bunkers when installation is completed."
WILL WE BETRAY OUR IRAQI WORKERS? - ANDREW GREELEY (CHICAGO SUN TIMES,
AUGUST 2/COMMON DREAMS): What will happen to those Iraqis who worked for the
United States when we finally pull up stakes In Iraq, someone will cut off
their heads. Americans will feel no more responsibility for their deaths than
they do for the tens of thousands of Iraqis who have already died during our
WAR GOING HORRIBLY FOR IRAQIS - AMITABH PAL (COMMON DREAMS, AUGUST 5):
There's something of a whiff of racism in claiming that the Iraq War is not
going too badly because American casualties have been marginally lower last
month. On purpose or otherwise, this analysis misses the larger purpose of why
U.S. troops are meant to be in Iraq: to make life better for the Iraqis. As the
numbers show, U.S. troops are spectacularly failing in this regard.
SOUTH OF BAGHDAD, A CAUTIONARY TALE: AFTER HEAVY LOSSES, U.S. TROOPS IN THE
'TRIANGLE OF DEATH' SAY THEY'RE MAKING PROGRESS, THOUGH SLOWLY AND SUBTLY - TINA
SUSMAN (LOS ANGELES TIMES, AUGUST 6)
IN IRAQI SOUTH, SHIITES PRESS FOR AUTONOMY: MOMENTUM IS BUILDING FOR A
FEDERATION OF SOUTHERN PROVINCES IN A FURTHER CHALLENGE TO IRAQ'S NATIONAL UNITY
- SAM DAGHER (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, AUGUST 6)
WEAPONS GIVEN TO IRAQ ARE MISSING: GAO ESTIMATES 30% OF ARMS ARE UNACCOUNTED
FOR - GLENN KESSLER (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 6): The Pentagon has lost track of
about 190,000 AK-47 assault rifles and pistols given to Iraqi security forces in
2004 and 2005, according to a new government report, raising fears that some of
those weapons have fallen into the hands of insurgents fighting U.S. forces in
WHY IRAQ INSURGENCY HASN'T LOST STEAM BUT HOPE HAS - JAY BOOKMAN (ATLANTA
JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, AUGUST 2/COMMON DREAMS): The surge was never intended to
win the war, it was intended to temporarily suppress the insurgency while the
Iraqi government makes good on its promises to the Iraqis and to the Americans
fighting and dying on their behalf. That hasn't even begun to happen.
THE NEGATIVE POWER OF PRESIDENTIAL WISHFUL THINKING ON IRAQ - ELIZABETH
SULLIVAN (CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, AUGUST 2/COMMON DREAMS): Instead of Iraq
becoming the crucible in which America would prove its military prowess against
rogues and terrorists, it has become the touchstone for resistance. Instead of
making America safer, Iraq has put America in greater peril, as terrorist cells
become more diffuse and harder to track.
BEYOND DISASTER - CHRIS HEDGES (TRUTHDIG, AUGUST 6): The war in Iraq is
about to get worse -- much worse. The security of the Green Zone, our imperial
city, will be increasingly breached. Command and control will disintegrate. And
we will back out of Iraq humiliated and defeated. But this will not be the end
of the conflict. It will, in fact, signal a phase of the war far deadlier and
more dangerous to American intersts.
PATRIOTS WHO LOVE THE TROOPS TO DEATH - FRANK RICH (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST
5): It was a rewriting of history that made the blogosphere (and others) go
berserk last week over an Op-Ed article in The Times, 'A War We Just Might Win,'
by Michael O'Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack. The two Brookings Institution scholars,
after a government-guided tour, pointed selectively to successes on the ground
in Iraq in arguing that the surge should be continued 'at least into 2008.' The
hole in their argument was gaping. Hiding behind the troops is the last refuge
of this war's sponsors.
THE REALLY SMART, SERIOUS, CREDIBLE IRAQ EXPERTS O'HANLON AND POLLACK -
GLENN GREENWALD (SALON, JULY 30): What is the most vivid and compelling evidence
of how broken our political system is? It is that the exact same people who
urged us into the war in Iraq, were wrong in everything they said, and issued
one false assurance after the next as the war failed, continue to be the same
people held up as our Serious Iraq Experts.
MEDIA BLITZ FOR WAR: THE BIG GUNS OF AUGUST - NORMAN SOLOMON (COMMON DREAMS,
AUGUST 2): Arguments over whether U.S. forces can prevail in Iraq bypass a truth
that no amount of media spin can change: The U.S. war effort in Iraq has always
been illegitimate and fundamentally wrong. Whatever the prospects for America?s
war there, it shouldn?t be fought.
TO BUSH, GEN. PETRAEUS IS THE SECOND COMING - AT LEAST FOR NOW - ARIANNA
HUFFINGTON (BALTIMORESUN.COM, AUGUST 5): ?For months now, I've been trying to
blow some of that pixie dust off General Petraeus so that, come September, his
vaunted report will be seen for what it inevitably will be: one more stall
tactic designed to deny reality and delay the inevitable."
LOWER EXPECTATIONS: IRAQ, REALISTICALLY - JONAH GOLDBERG (NATIONAL REVIEW,
AUGUST 3): 'At this point I'm in favor of whatever modest success we can eke out
of Iraq. But we should keep in mind that 'strong states' alone do not a drained
LEGION OF THE LOST - R. EMMETT TYRRELL JR. (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 3): The
new strategy of Lt. Gen. David Petraeus seems to be working. Casualties among
civilians in Iraq are perceptibly lower.
THE TURN: DEFEATISTS IN RETREAT - WILLIAM KRISTOL (WEEKLY STANDARD, AUGUST
13): In the real world, the news from Iraq had been (relatively) good for a
couple of months.
WHAT IF WE WIN? - CAL THOMAS (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 3): Democrats appear
unable to conceive of victory, or at least stability in Iraq.
TO EXIT IRAQ, HOW IS AS IMPORTANT AS WHEN: ANY TROOP WITHDRAWAL COULD TAKE
UP TO 18 MONTHS AND WOULD NEED CAREFUL PLANNING, MILITARY EXPERTS SAY - GORDON
LUBOLD (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, AUGUST 6)
NOSTRA CULPA - MICHAEL KINSLEY (TIME, AUGUST 2): Bush's decision to go to
war in Iraq was scandalously unilateral, but it did in fact have the support of
most American citizens, which surely egged him on.
GETTING IRAQ WRONG - MICHAEL IGNATIEFF (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 5): We might
test judgment by asking, on the issue of Iraq, who best anticipated how events
turned out. But many of those who correctly anticipated catastrophe did so not
by exercising judgment but by indulging in ideology. They opposed the invasion
because they believed the president was only after the oil or because they
believed America is always and in every situation wrong. The people who truly
showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but
also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action.
SYRIAN SURVEY - KEN BALLEN (WALL STREET JOURNAL, AUGUST 4): Despite powerful
anti-American feelings and support for Iraqi fighters, 63% of Syrians still
favor Syria working with the United States to help resolve the Iraq war. In
Iran, close to 70% of the people favor better relations with the U.S.; in Syria
only 40% favor closer ties.
ARMING THE SAUDIS MAKES NO ONE SAFER - FRIDA GHITIS (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, AUGUST
BUSH'S GULF GAMBIT: BY CONTAINING IRAN, THE U.S. REMAINS IN IRAQ - MICHAEL
YOUNG (REASON, AUGUST 2): We're back to the days when the Gulf kingdoms and
emirates were avid consumers of high-tech American weaponry, in the context of a
broader quid pro quo where the U.S. took on the burden of security in the Gulf
region in exchange for Saudi intervention to stabilize the oil markets.
THE MYSTERIES OF AMERICAN LOGIC - ZVI BAR'EL (HAARETZ, AUGUST 5): If it is
hard to be impressed by the pure strategic logic of the Saudi arms deal, it is
permissible to worry about America's strategic standing in the region -- because
neither Saudi nor Kuwaiti arms protect the Gulf, but rather the massive presence
of the U.S. army and the understanding that it is Washington who will act
against any threat to the Arab states. Israel's safety also depends on this.
MEDIATED TERRORISM: DOUBLE STANDARDS IN U.S. AID TO THE MIDDLE EAST -
ANTHONY DIMAGGIO (COUNTERPUNCH, AUGUST 4/5): Corrupt authoritarian rulers in
Saudi Arabia and Egypt require U.S. aid in order to defend their regimes from
the increasing threats of their own populations, rather than from phantom
outside "threats" discussed in American political and media propaganda.
APPEASEMENT OR 'GRAND STRATEGY' DIANA WEST (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 3):
Inspired by the teachings of James Baker -- practically an honorary Saudi
princeling -- Condi, Bob, and, of course, George, see the Saudis as Our Moderate
Allies. Who cares if they promote jihad doctrine? Who cares if they sponsor
Hamas? Who cares how many Saudis support (or belong to) al Qaeda?
THE MIDEAST NEEDS MORE GUNS? EDITORIAL (BOSTON GLOBE, AUGUST 5): The last
thing the Middle East needs is a new round of arms sales, but that is what the
Bush administration wants Congress to approve, the better to contain Iran's bid
for dominance in the region.
MUSHARRAF'S OBSOLETE WAY - JIM HOAGLAND (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 5):
Pakistan?s president Musharraf's long run as President Bush's personal favorite
among Third World leaders is in such serious trouble that some administration
officials have quietly conducted a review of the general's ability to survive.
Their conclusion -- that he can continue to hang on -- may well ignore changing
Pakistani and international realities.
A MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE? - EDITORIAL (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, AUGUST 5): Since
the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Musharraf has been a key ally to the U.S. in its
fight against Al Qaeda. But he has not been an entirely reliable ally, and in
recent weeks he has been weakened in his own country.
JIHADI GALAXY IN PAKISTAN - CLAUDE SALHANI (WASHINGTON TIMES, AUGUST 5):
More cooperation with the United States is placing Mr. Musharraf in even more
negative light with many of his citizens. One avenue that seems to be left open
to Mr. Musharraf is to extend an offer of reconciliation to former Prime
Minister Benazir Bhutto. But, again, can she fix Pakistan?
ONWARD INTO WAZIRISTAN! - PATRICK J. BUCHANAN (ANTIWAR.COM, AUGUST 3):
U.S. troops in an Arab or Muslim country are more likely to create an insurgency
than quell one.
POWER FAILURE: THE U.S.'S CATASTROPHIC NUCLEAR DEAL WITH INDIA - SHARON
SQUASSONI (TRN ONLINE, AUGUST 3): Many see hypocrisy in rewarding India, a
nuclear weapon state outside the NPT, while punishing Iran, an NPT member state
that does not yet have the bomb.
YOUNG RUSSIA'S ENEMY NO. 1: ANTI-AMERICANISM GROWS - BY SARAH E. MENDELSON
AND THEODORE P. GERBER (WASHINGTON POST, AUGUST 3): The legacy of a new
generation of Russians who are nostalgic for the Soviet Union, ambivalent about
Stalin and hostile toward the United States may jeopardize U.S.-Russian
relations long after Putin is gone.
KOSOVO AS PART OF RUSSIA'S DESIGN - JANUSZ BUGAJSKI (WASHINGTON TIMES,
AUGUST 3): For the Putin administration, the birth of new pro-American states
and the expansion of democracies in former communist territories presents a
long-term threat to Russia's strategic designs.
5 MYTHS ABOUT THE JAPAN THAT JUST SAID NO - MICHAEL ZIELENZIGER (WASHINGTON
POST, AUGUST 5): Just a few weeks ago, the Bush administration seemed convinced
that it could rely on a newly assertive Japan to contain China's rise and help
prosecute the global fight against terrorism. Then last weekend, Japan's voters
just said "No."
THE BLACK SITES: A RARE LOOK INSIDE THE C.I.A.'S SECRET INTERROGATION
PROGRAM - JANE MAYER (NEW YORKER, AUGUST 13): The Bush Administration has gone
to great lengths to keep secret the treatment of the hundred or so ?high-value
detainees? whom the C.I.A. has confined, at one point or another, since
POEMS FROM GUANTÁNAMO (BOSTON GLOBE, AUGUST 5): The just-released "Poems
from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak" is a collection of 22 poems by 17
detainees at the US detention center at Guantánamo Bay. Edited by Marc Falkoff,
each poem had to be cleared by the Pentagon. The result offers a rare glimpse
into the lives of the prisoners.
STAMPEDING CONGRESS, AGAIN EDITORIAL (NEW YORK TIMES, AUGUST 3): Since the
9/11 terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has repeatedly demonstrated that
it does not feel bound by the law or the Constitution when it comes to the war
on terror. It cannot even be trusted to properly use the enhanced powers it was
legally granted after the attacks.
AL-QAIDA WILL DEFEAT AL-QAIDA - NELLY LAHOUD (BALTIMORESUN.COM, AUGUST 3):
Strategists ought to realize that al-Qaida cannot be defeated through
conventional wars. Instead, it must be given the space to self-destruct.
WE'RE STILL THE WORLD'S CAPED CRUSADER: THE UNITED STATES IS THE BEST HOPE
TO HELP STEER NATIONS THROUGH DANGEROUS TIMES - ROBERT KAGAN (FROM THE LOS
ANGELES TIMES, AUGUST 5): American predominance does not stand in the way of
progress toward a better world. It stands in the way of regression toward a more
dangerous world. The choice is not between an American-dominated order and a
world that looks like the European Union. The future international order will be
shaped by those who have the power to shape it. Its leaders will not meet in
Brussels but in Beijing, Moscow and Washington.