Quote of the Day:
"Diplomacy is the sewer through which flows the scum and refuse of the political puddle. A man not fit to stay at home is just the man to send abroad."
--New York Herald Tribune (1857); cited in Chas Freeman, "Diplomacy in the Age of Terror" (Middle East Policy Council, October 4)
DIPLOMACY IN THE AGE OF TERROR CHAS FREEMAN (MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL, OCTOBER 4): Now the United States has brought the Palestinian experience -- of humiliation, dislocation, and death -- to millions more in Afghanistan and Iraq. Israel and the United States each have our reasons for what we are doing, but no amount of public diplomacy can persuade the victims of our policies that their suffering is justified, or spin away their anger, or assuage their desire for reprisal and revenge. Since winning the Cold War, we have again surprised the world -- by reverting to ineffectual unilateralism, this time compounding it with militarism, swagger, self-righteousness, and complacent ignorance. To regain both spiritual strength and allied support, we must restore our country's reputation as the speaker for the world's conscience, not its most powerful abuser.
IS U.S. WAGING WAR WITH RADICAL ISLAMISTS AGGRESSIVELY ENOUGH? - MORT KONDRACKE (ROLL CALL, OCTOBER 4): The question is, how aggressive is Hughes -- and the U.S. government -- in confronting not only al-Qaida, but the underlying ideology of radical Islam? Hughes and some of her aides often are so leery of offending Muslims that they hesitate even to use the term 'jihadist' because it has a religious interpretation. And even some officials who defend Hughes admit that the effort to combat radicalism needs more personnel and money.
SURE, HE'S GOT GUNS FOR HIRE. BUT THEY'RE JUST NOT WORTH IT - P.W. SINGER (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7): In Iraq, the clear pattern shows that military outsourcing hurts American efforts in the "war of ideas," in Iraq and beyond. As one Iraqi official explained, even before the recent shootings: "They are part of the reason for all the hatred that is directed at Americans because people don't know them as Blackwater, they know them only as Americans. They are planting hatred because of these irresponsible acts."
DIPLOMATIC CONVOYS IN IRAQ GET NEW RULE: RICE ORDERS PRESENCE OF GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS - PETER SPIEGEL (BALTIMORE SUN, OCTOBER 6): Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has ordered all diplomatic convoys in Baghdad to travel under the supervision of US government security officials, a drastic overhaul of operations in the wake of allegations that the department's private guards, Blackwater USA, have engaged in unnecessary violence in the Iraqi capital. U.S. officials and outside analysts said the move was a reaction to growing international outrage that was further eroding U.S. standing in both Europe and the Middle East. In those regions, the officials said, news reports about Blackwater's involvement in a Sept. 16 shooting that left at least 11 Iraqis dead have run repeatedly on local media, hindering the department's public diplomacy efforts.
BLACKWATER HIRES PR GIANT [BURSON-MARSTELLER ] IN IMAGE SEIGE - ASSOCIATED PRESS (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 5): http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Blackwater-PR.html?pagewanted=print
NEW DIPLO-BLOG STAR IN KABUL JOSHUA KEATING (PASSPORT, FOREIGN POLICY, OCTOBER 4): The US State Department's disappointing new blog Dipnote does not mean that the new genre of diplomatic blogging has no potential. To see how it's done right, check out the site of Sherard Cowper-Coles, the UK's ambassador to Afghanistan.
SHERARD COWPER-COLES BLOG AT
BILL CLINTON WANTS TO IMPROVE U.S. IMAGE (UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL, OCTOBER 5): Former U.S. President Bill Clinton told interviewers in London that if his wife becomes president he could make public diplomacy his job.
US, IRAN PLAY WITH FIRE - RAMESH THAKUR (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 4): The recent in-your-face introduction by Columbia University president Lee Bollinger of Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have delighted the US audience, but it has compounded America's image problem in the rest of the world.
OPENING OF US EMBASSY IN IRAQ DELAYED - ASSOCIATED PRESS (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 5) The opening of a mammoth, $600 million US Embassy in Baghdad, which had been planned for last month, has now been delayed well into next year, US officials said Thursday. The Vatican-sized compound, which will be the world's largest diplomatic mission, has been beset by construction and logistical problems.
IRAQ EMBASSY COST RISES $144 MILLION AMID PROJECT DELAYS: PLANNING, WORKMANSHIP CITED AS PROBLEMS - GLENN KESSLER (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7)
THEY'RE SUPERSIZING THE BAGHDAD EMBASSY. BIG MISTAKE - JOHN BROWN (WASHINGTON POST, JULY 1, 2004)
A MODEST PROPOSAL: LET?S JUST HAVE THE NEW AMERICAN EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD IN SECOND LIFE! - JOHN BROWN (COMMON DREAMS, JUNE 1, 2007)
THE REALITY IN IRAQ DEPENDS ON WHO'S COUNTING - CLARK HOYT (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 7): There is plenty of evidence that civilian deaths from war-related violence have gone down since the end of last year -- although the cause of the decline is the subject of fierce argument. Whatever the numbers say, it isn't a pretty picture.
STATE DEPT. IGNORED BLACKWATER WARNINGS: DIPLOMATS HAD RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT GUARDS' ENDANGERING OF IRAQI CIVILIANS, BUT THE COMPLAINTS GOT LITTLE ATTENTION - PAUL RICHTER (LOS ANGELES TIMES, OCTOBER 7)
I SURVIVED BLACKWATER: A FORMER U.S. OFFICIAL RECEIVED THE SECURITY COMPANY'S SERVICES -- AND WITNESSED ITS DISREGARD FOR IRAQI LIVES - JANESSA GANS (LOS ANGELES TIMES, OCTOBER 6): http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-gans6oct06,0,1155563.story?coll=la-opinion-center
BLACKWATER'S ENABLERS AT THE STATE DEPARTMENT ? JOHN NICHOLS (NATION, OCTOBER 2): When the State Department helps the company pay off the families of its victims and helps to extract killers from circumstances in which they might be arrested and prosecuted, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her cronies become for more appropriate subjects of scrutiny than Erik Prince.
OUTSOURCING WAR IS BAD BUSINESS - P.W. SINGER (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7)
BLACK MARKS FOR BLACKWATER ? EDITORIAL (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 6): There is no good reason for the Blackwater guards to operate outside US laws.
MARK OF TROUBLE - MICHAEL GRUNWALD (TIME, OCTOBER 4): The U.S. now has more private contractors than troops in Iraq. Blackwater's federal workload has grown from $204,000 to nearly $600 million since 2000. You could call it Halliburton with guns, except Halliburton has some guns too.
BLACKWATER IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG - SUSAN RICE (HUFFINGTON POST, OCTOBER 5): By failing to control the contractors, or giving contracts to criminal enterprises, we squander our moral authority, waste tax dollars and undercut our men and women in uniform fighting far from home.
BLACKWATER'S BACKWASH: THEIR LEGAL STATUS NEEDS CLARITY, BUT BUSH HASN'T RAMBO-IZED IRAQ - REVIEW & OUTLOOK (OPINION JOURNAL FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE, OCTOBER 5)
OPPOSING THE KURDISTAN OPTION FOR WITHDRAWAL - MATAN CHOREV (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 4): Among the runt options for Iraq drawdown, a redeployment of troops as a transition force might be the strategic and wise thing to do; adding Iraqi Kurdistan as the 51st state is not.
IRAQ EXIT LOGISTICS - ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 7): Clearly any major withdrawal from Iraq would have to be a phased operation and some equipment would have to be destroyed or transferred to the new Iraqi army.
MY BATTLE WITH NORMAN PODHORETZ. WORLD WAR V - TODD GITLIN (NEW REPUBLIC, SEPTEMBER 28): The awful trouble is, Iraq is not bound for glory. Psychologically, this poses a problem for true believers like Podhoretz, author World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism. What better solution than to point a withering finger at the barbarians at home?
WHY ARE THERE NO WAR CRIMES TRIALS? - ANDREW GREELEY (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, OCTOBER 5/COMMON DREAMS): Why was it necessary to invade Iraq? Because they attacked us? But they did not. Most of the 9/11 killers were in fact Saudis. Because they had weapons that might kill us? It turns out that they did not. Why is it necessary to continue this pointless, never-ending war? For the sake of democracy in Iraq? For victory? Because the president says it?s the ?right thing? to do? So that a future president will be blamed for ?weakness??
BUSH'S GIFT OF VICTORY TO IRAN'S HARDMEN: WITH ITS EVERY MOVE IN IRAQ, THE WHITE HOUSE HAS STRENGTHENED THE HAND OF TEHRAN - PETER GALBRAITH (SUNDAY TIMES, LONDON OCTOBER 7)
MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE CHARLIE REESE (ANTIWAR.COM, OCTOBER 6): If we do attack Iran, there will be hell to pay.
THE FALLOUT FROM AN ATTACK ON IRAN WOULD BE DEVASTATING: THE DRUMBEAT OF WAR IN WASHINGTON IS GROWING - AND SO MUST PUBLIC PRESSURE AGAINST BRITISH INVOLVEMENT IN SUCH FOLLY ? SEUMAS MILNE (GUARDIAN, OCTOBER 5/COMMON DREAMS)
THE GUARDS RUN THE SHOW IN IRAN: THEY HAVE A HAND IN THE NUCLEAR PROGRAM, ATTACKS IN IRAQ, AND POLITICS - ABBAS WILLIAM SAMII (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, OCTOBER 5): A combination of assertive diplomacy and robust sanctions that target the real engines of the regime -- its energy sector, trade, and finance -- is likely to affect Iranian behavior.
FIVE BEST: PERSIAN GULF -- INSIGHTS INTO IRAN CAN BE GLEANED FROM THESE MASTERLY WORKS - MICHAEL LEDEEN (OPINION JOURNAL FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL PAGE, OCTOBER 6)
SO WHO'S AFRAID OF THE ISRAEL LOBBY? - RAY MCGOVERN (ANTIWAR.COM, OCTOBER 6): Israel's illegal 40-year control over and confiscation of land in the occupied territories and US enabling support (particularly the one-sided support by the current U.S. administration) go a long way toward explaining why it is that 1.3 bllion Muslims "hate us."
TWO KNIGHTS AND A DRAGON: THE POWER OF THE ISRAEL LOBBY ? URI AVNERY (ANTIWAR.COM, OCTOBER 4): John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, the authors of The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, are, of course, accused of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of Israel. What Israel? It is the Isreal Lobby itself that hates a large part of Israel. Bush and his people believe -- even without the input of the Lobby -- that it would be advantageous for the U.S. to establish a permanent American military presence in the middle of this region of huge oil reserves. This counter-productive act was one of the main objectives of the Iraq war, side by side with the desire to eliminate one of Israel's most dangerous enemies.
MILTON VIORST ON 'THE ISRAEL LOBBY' - MILTON VIORST (TRUTHDIG, OCTOBER 4): Why, when it comes to AIPAC, do so many Americans abandon the skepticism they apply to other interests within the political spectrum? Europe is much less accommodating to Israel. AIPAC, naturally, blames the difference on Europe?s anti-Semitism, though -- apart from Europe?s Muslims, who start with political grievances against Israel -- there is little evidence to support its theory. Mearsheimer and Walt credit AIPAC?s skillful manipulation of the system, but the search for an answer needs more.
"IT DOESN'T GET ANY WORSE THAN THAT, RAY": UNMASKING AIPAC - WILLIAM A. COOK (COUNTERPUNCH, OCTOBER 5): ?Isn't it obvious today that the direction of America's policies regarding Iran, and our almost certain to be pre-emptive invasion of this nation on behalf of Israel, is directed by the same coterie of men who pushed us into the disastrous war against Iraq -- Podhoretz, Wurmser, Perle, Feith, Crystal, Kagan, Krouthammer [sic], Abrams and others too numerous to mention, the hounds of war that find no guilt in sending the sons and daughters of others to fight the wars they wage so eloquently in their heads as they sit in front of their computers guiding to their deaths those they never met.?
LOBBYING DEGREE ZERO - DANIEL LAZARE (NATION, OCTOBER 4): If Mearsheimer and Walt have accomplished anything, it is to demonstrate that nothing is beyond criticism, including the American-Israeli alliance.
CONSPIRACY THEORY: WHO REALLY DRIVES AMERICA'S POLICY TOWARD THE MIDDLE EAST? [REVIEW OF THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND U.S. FOREIGN POLICY BY JOHN J. MEARSHEIMER AND STEPHEN M. WALT; THE DEADLIEST LIES: THE ISRAEL LOBBY AND THE MYTH OF JEWISH CONTROL BY ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN] - SAMUEL G. FREEDMAN (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7): Mearsheimer and Walt simply refuse to believe that all the lobbying in the world on Israel's behalf couldn't have succeeded had there not also been enough voters, the vast number of them non-Jews, who genuinely do believe in the moral and strategic foundations of the unique, and uniquely controversial, U.S.-Israeli relationship.
COLUMN ONE: RICE'S RABBIT HOLE ? CAROLINE GLICK (JERUSALEM POST, OCTOBER 4): It is far from clear what American interests Rice is advancing with her unswerving effort to reach a peace accord between Israel and Fatah. Indeed, Rice's efforts are detrimental to US interests in the region. Unfortunately, due to Rice's missteps, the US today has little influence over the Arab states.
BIG DEAL WITH NORTH KOREA EDITORIAL (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 6): It has been a long time coming, but President Bush has finally begun to cut the deals with North Korea that were always required to eliminate the world's most dangerous weapons from the Korean peninsula.
BUSH-RICE ENDURING VICTORY GORDON PRATHER (ANTIWAR.COM, OCTOBER 6): What is clear is that, irrespective of what the Six-Party talks accomplish, both Koreas are deadly serious about negotiating -- in a separate forum -- a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War, which began in 1950. But there?s a problem. Bush.
A FLAWED NORTH KOREA DEAL EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 5): Congress would do well to take a long, careful look at the merits of the U.S. agreement with North Korea.
NORTH KOREAN MYSTERY - JIM HOAGLAND (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7): Why is President Bush accepting the promises of a regime he has regularly excoriated -- at a time when officials in his administration make a credible case that North Korea has just been caught helping Syria with nuclear technology?
VERIFICATION HOLDS THE KEY - ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (WASHINGTON TIMES, OCTOBER 7): If we are to have any confidence of truly ending North Korea's nuclear threat, we must change our deal-at-any-cost approach to the negotiations and stop making unilateral concessions to the regime. Instead, we must insist on Pyongyang's taking complete, verifiable and irreversible steps to dismantle its nuclear program. North Korea should earn its rewards, or it will simply come to view them as its by right. (Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida serves is the senior Republican on the U.S. House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee.)
BURMA'S BLOODY SILENCE: WHILE THE REGIME CRUSHES POPULAR PROTESTS, THE U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL PREPARES TO . . . LISTEN TO A REPORT - EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 5): The response of the Bush administration and European countries to the situation in Burma has been relatively tough: The US Embassy has been authorized to provide honest reports on the crackdown to the outside world, and Europe is working on a tightening of its visa restrictions and other sanctions against the junta.
A NEW STRATEGY FOR BURMA - JARED GENSER (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 5): The Burmese people have, yet again, signaled to the world that they yearn to be free. The question is whether the international community will heed their cry for help.
MANY CZECHS LOVE U.S., BUT SAY 'HOLD THE RADAR' - NICHOLAS KULISH (INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE, OCTOBER 1): In Poland, proposed US missile interceptors, part of the same defense system, are unpopular but have not become a serious political issue. But in the Czech Republic, with the lower house of Parliament closely divided between the center-right government and the left-wing opposition, the fight is a high-profile one and passage of the United States proposal is anything but certain -- even though Czech politicians of almost all stripes speak of the debt their country owes the United States for its freedom.
DON'T MILITARIZE U.S.-AFRICA TIES - FRIDA BERRIGAN AND WILLIAM D. HARTUNG (BALTIMORESUN.COM, OCTOBER 5)
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW: DEMOCRATOSIS - NOAH FELDMAN (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 7): The expansion of democracy is for us what empire was for the great world powers before us: a rallying cry that makes us proud and keeps us unified -- while also serving our interests. Our national faith in the value of democracy is not wrong, whatever the world?s skepticism and our evident shortcomings in implementing it.
TORTURE, CONTINUED - DAN FROOMKIN (WASHINGTONPOST.COM, OCTOBER 4): Finding out what our government has been doing in our name, and openly debating our interrogation policies, should have been high on the national agenda since the disclosure of the shockingly inhumane treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Few other issues speak so clearly to how we see ourselves as a people -- and how others see us. But the White House's non-denial denials, disingenuous euphemisms and oppressive secrecy have repeatedly stifled any genuine discourse. Bush shuts down discussion by declaring that "we don't torture" -- yet he won't even say how he defines the term.
THE LATEST REVELATIONS OF LAWBREAKING, TORTURE AND EXTREMISM - GLENN GREENWALD (SALON, OCTOBER 4)
THE SECRET STATE OF TORTURE - TOM HAYDEN (NATION, OCTOBER 5): If torture is winning on the field of rhetoric, it must be stopped in reality. Otherwise, we will be accepting America's status as an emptied democracy that cannot put an end to its own gulags.
MORE TORTURE MEMOS: THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S SECRET LEGAL DECISIONS DEFY CONGRESS AND THE COURTS ? EDITORIAL (WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 7): President Bush said Friday, as he has many times before, that "this government does not torture people." But presidential declarations can't change the facts.
ON TORTURE AND AMERICAN VALUES - EDITORIAL (NEW YORK TIMES, OCTOBER 7): Once upon a time, it was the United States that urged all nations to obey the letter and the spirit of international treaties and protect human rights and liberties. American leaders denounced secret prisons where people were held without charges, tortured and killed. And the people in much of the world, if not their governments, respected the United States for its values. The Bush administration has dishonored that history and squandered that respect.
GITMO: AMERICA'S BLACK HOLE - CLIVE STAFFORD SMITH (LOS ANGELES TIMES, OCOTBER 5/COMMON DREAMS): Most of the secrecy in Guantanamo involves suppressing bad news about the base rather than anything that should really be classified.
EIGHT MORE WRONGLY IMPRISONED MEN ARE QUIETLY RELEASED: THE ANONYMOUS VICTIMS OF GUANTÁNAMO - ANDY WORTHINGTON (COUNTERPUNCH, OCTOBER 5)
RESTORE HABEAS, RESTORE SECURITY: EVEN IN RISKY TIMES, CHAMPIONING THE RULE OF LAW IS THE BEST WAY TO PROTECT AMERICAN SOCIETY AND ITS FOUNDING VALUES - WILLIAM H. NEUKOM (CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, OCTOBER 5): Some argue that military necessity makes normal court review for detainees an unaffordable luxury, but they should consider this: Even Israel, which lives in constant threat of deadly attack, ensures a prompt court review of all suspected terrorists.
GOODBYE, GWOT AL KAMEN (IN THE LOOP, WASHINGTON POST, OCTOBER 5): Seems the incoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Adm. Michael Mullen, has banned the use of the phrase "Global War on Terror" (GWOT) and has prohibited using it "in any future correspondence," according to a Sept. 27 e-mail from a Mullen aide. Bush, at a White House meeting of senior officials, reportedly objected to the change, noting that no one had checked with him. It was still a war as far as he was concerned, he said. By July, Rumsfeld was back to using GWOT in his speeches. So the Decider has Decided.
'3:10 TO YUMA' HAS OBVIOUS SIMILARITIES WITH THE WAR IN IRAQ - DAVID CORBETT (SFGATE, SEPTEMBER 30): Will the Iraq campaign, and the larger war on terror, reduce to the grim choice: an honorable but tragic sacrifice on one hand, a morally tainted survival on the other? Whose blood, and how much of it, needs to be lost before we know?
A NUCLEAR-FREE WORLD - IVO DAALDER AND JOHN HOLUM (BOSTON GLOBE, OCTOBER 5): There is much that the United States can do to lift the dark nuclear shadow over the world.