Monday, October 24, 2005

"When evil is allowed to compete with good . . ."

Mike and I selected the following two items from Democracy Now!'s Headlines today to note.

"Brent Scowcroft Slams Bush Administration" (Democracy Now!)
Last week, Colin Powell's former chief of staff Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson accused Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld of running a cabal that is undermining the country's democracy. And now former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft has slammed the Bush administration in an interview with the New Yorker magazine. He directed much of his criticism to the neoconservatives and their handling of Iraq. He said, "This was said to be part of the war on terror, but Iraq feeds terrorism." Scowcroft, who is close friends with George H.W. Bush, admitted it was difficult to criticize the sitting president. When New Yorker reporter Jeffrey Goldberg asked Scowcroft if the son was different from the father, he said, "I don't want to go there." When Goldberg asked him to name issues on which he agrees with the younger Bush, Scowcroft said, "Afghanistan." He then paused for twelve seconds. Finally, he said, "I think we're doing well on Europe." Scowcroft went on to say "The real anomaly in the Administration is Cheney. I consider Cheney a good friend - I've known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don't know anymore."

This actually reminds me of an earlier item.

"Ex-Powell Aide: Cheney 'Cabal' Hijacked Foreign Policy" (Democracy Now!):
Colin Powell's former chief of staff publicly accused top-level officials in the Bush administration of hijacking the country's foreign policy in ways that have undermined American democracy. The official - Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson spoke Wednesday in Washington. Up until January he was chief of staff to then Secretary of State Powell. "What I saw was a cabal between the Vice President of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense... that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made," Wilkerson said. Wilkerson went on to accuse President Bush and Rumsfeld of condoning the abuse of detainees overseas. The Financial Times described Wilkerson's comments as the harshest attack on the administration by a former senior official since criticisms by Richard Clarke and Paul O'Neill early last year. Wilkerson admitted Wednesday his decision to publicly criticize the administration has led to a falling out with Colin Powell, who he worked with for 16 years.

Now hold on for a minute because I want you to focus on a third item (and I'm stealing from Kyle and C.I. because the item was noted at The Common Ills this morning).

"Ideology Governed Post-war Iraq Policy: US Diplomat" (Islam Online):
A veteran US diplomat who served as a government adviser in Iraq has said that the US policy in the Arab country at the initial stage of the occupation was driven by neoconservative ideology rather than careful preparation and clear understanding of issues.
"What one needs to understand is that these decisions were ideologically based," said Ambassador Robin Raphel, who has been with the foreign service since 1977 and once served as assistant secretary of state.
The unusually candid remarks were made in a July 2004 interview for a relatively obscure history program at the US Institute of Peace, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP) Saturday, October 22.
The interview has remained unnoticed until now, when increasing numbers of Americans began to question the Bush administration's involvement in Iraq.Raphel, who served as a trade adviser to the Iraqi government from April to August 2003, took particular issue with decisions by then administrator Paul Bremer to launch debaathification of the country and disband the Iraqi military.
"They were not based on an analytical, historical understanding. They were based on ideology. You don't counter ideology with logic or experience or analysis very effectively," she said.
"The ideology was what has come to be called neoconservatism and the whole belief that this would be an easy war, that we would be welcomed with open arms."

Take all three together. Scowcroft says the war's been mismanaged (that's a mild take on his comments) and directs most of his wrath as the neocons which can be read as a slam against neocon ideology. Wilkerson says a 'cabal' hijacked foreign policy and distorted intelligence with their own beliefs (ideology). Raphel tells us that they rejected any knowledge of history or analysis and just operated out of ideology. The war on truth and the war on knowledge converge in this administration that's determined to have "their way" no matter what facts determine, no matter what history implies, no matter what the social sciences must tell them.
For most of us, that's not a surprise, we've been aware of that for some time. But are you noting the people that are now making statements similar to what those of us in the peace movement have been saying for some time?

Scowcroft's comments regarding Cheney strike me as especially interesting considering the timing. Note the next item.

"White House Prepares for Possible Indictments" (Democracy Now!)
Reuters is reporting White House officials will learn today whether special prosecutor Patrick FItzgerald will seek indictments over the Bush administration's outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Reports indicate that the grand jury could indict both President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove and VIce President Dick Cheney's chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for perjury or conspiracy. Both Rove and Libby failed to disclose key information about their role in the leak to the grand jury. Late last week Fitzgerald launched a website prompting speculation that he set it up to post the indictments. Fitzgerald has already posted documents that reveal the Justice Department gave him authority two years ago to expand his inquiry to include any criminal attempts to interfere with the investigation.

Cheney looks burned. If only Libby is indicted, it's still a reflection on Cheney. Click here to visit Fitzgerald's web site. My hope for this week is that at least two indictments are handed out.

I have two e-mails asking why I didn't post my section of "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review" yesterday? Saturday night, Sunday morning wiped me out. I didn't have the energy to blog yesterday. I did get online Saturday to note Ruth's amazing piece of writing.
But here's the news review, or Mike and my section of it:

C.I.: Cedric, thank you for that perspective piece. With more news on Iraq, we now go to Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz and Mike of Mikey Likes It! All week long, they pair up to select information from Democracy Now! to spotlight at their respective sites. Readers of The Third Estate Sunday Review prefer them paired up for the news review. We started with Elaine last week, so let's start with Mike.

Mike: C.I., despite the AP's best attempts at spinning, if milestones are coming out of Iraq, one may be the secret poll that England commissioned. Australia's Herald Sun reports that in the poll, "up to 65 per cent of Iraqi citizens support attacks and fewer than one percent think allied military involvement is helping to improve security in their country."

Elaine: The poll had several findings of interest. As reported by The Telgraph of London:

• 82 per cent are "strongly opposed" to the presence of coalition troops;
• less than one per cent of the population believes coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security;
• 67 per cent of Iraqis feel less secure because of the occupation;
• 43 per cent of Iraqis believe conditions for peace and stability have worsened;
• 72 per cent do not have confidence in the multi-national forces.
The opinion poll, carried out in August, also debunks claims by both the US and British governments that the general well-being of the average Iraqi is improving in post-Saddam Iraq.

Elaine (con't): Despite the fact that results on the full audit will not be known until Monday at the earliest, the Associated Press is already running a nothing-to-see-here-no-fraud-here-move-along story. As Aljazeera notes, this is a partial return and does not include two provinces with high Sunni population. Aljazeera also notes the death of four more US soldiers on Saturday.

Mike: Which would be another real milestone as we close in on the 2,000 figure, official figure, for US troops who have died on the ground in Iraq. As Democracy Now! noted Friday:

UFPJ Plans Day of Actions Over 2,000 Military Deaths in Iraq

The antiwar group United for Peace and Justice has announced that it is organizing a national day of action planned for the day after the US military death toll in Iraq reaches 2,000. As of October 20, the total was 1,988. UFPJ is calling the action "2000 Too Many." Demonstrations are already scheduled in cities around the country. Military family members and veterans will be at the forefront of many planned protests.

Mike (con't): Elaine and I both believe that the count was 1996 via Iraq Coalition Casualties but at present, the site is down. However, an Associated Press report places the total at 1996 and it was filed before the four deaths that Aljazeera has reported.

Elaine: As United for Peace & Justice has noted:

So far, more than 1950 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and more than 15,000 have been wounded. U.S. soldiers are at grave risk in Iraq, and continue to suffer even after they come home. Troops returning to the U.S. are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and are even turning up in homeless shelters in cities through the country. The risk for Iraqis is even more severe: Tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed in the war, and hundreds of thousands of lives have been devastated, even according to the most conservative estimates.

Elaine (con't): Instead of dealing with that, the Associated Press wants to launch a new wave of Operation Happy Talk which isn't limited to what we've noted and Cedric's noted but also includes a "US troops' morale high!" piece. "US Troops Maintain High Morale" screams the headline which is a rather dubious claim if you read the actual article where one soliders airs his grievance that his tour of duty was extended by Donald Rumsfeld.

Mike: Half-way into the article you begin to hear from voices like the one Elaine noted. This occurs after the piece notes that: "Others say the toll of two and even three tours in Iraq in as many years has dwindled the number of those who will remain in the military and drained confidence that their work was making the United States safer." That's hardly "High Morale" so our best guess is that the Associated Press is counting on the fact that most people will read only the headline and the first few paragraphs.

C.I.: Thank you for that commentary, Elaine and Mike. We'll continue to attempt to access Iraq Coalition Count. For now we go to Betty, of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, with the news from the world of entertainment.

The entire news review is worth reading. Jim would like everyone to post their sections to get the word out on the news review. You've got Kat taking on Bono. After we finished it (and there were starts and stops throughout because we kept getting hung up on, collectively), I told Kat I enjoyed what she said and liked how she was making this a regular thing. She asked me what I was talking about? She honestly didn't realize this was her third time in a news review addressing Bono. It was. She asked if it was getting old? I don't think so. I think Bono needs to be held accountable. I read the Rolling Stone interview she was commenting on and Bono is just pathetic in it as he "explains" why he can't speak out against the war and as he attempts to defend Bully Buy. Bono got played, fine. To continue to play the fool after that is just pathetic.

I felt Kat's comments were very right on and hard hitting. He is trading sound science for appeasement and that will not help anyone. He truly should be ashamed. They reviewed a book by him at The Third Estate Sunday Review (the book is Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas).

"Five Books, Five Minutes" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Jim: What disappointing passage are we going with for the excerpt? When he speaks of his current coziness with politicians and notes that "as you get older, your idea of good guys and bad guys changes?"
Dona: How about the time he wastes discussing his weight loss and announcing that he's out of his "fat Elvis" period? Bono, meet Oprah.
Ava: I loved the fact that he saw no contradiction in decrying abusive economic systems that have harmed Africa, while he's setting up his own predatory practices.
Ty: We're going with his latest business venture because it perfectly captures the death of the artist and the emergence of the Bono today.

Excerpt from page 280-281, which is an excerpt of Robert A. Gurth's article for the Wall Street Journal:

Bono, lead singer for rock band U2 and antipoverty activist, is starting a new gig; media and entertainment investing. The 44-year-old rock star is joining Elevation Partners, a new Silicon Valley fund set up earlier this year by veteran technology investor Roger McNamee and John Riccitiello, who in April left his post as president of videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc. for Elevation. The participation of Bono should sharply raise the profile of Elevation, which people famaliar with the fund say initially will raise $1 billion for buyouts and investments in media and entertainment companies, seeking to profit from turmoil in those sectors. Elevation is expected to look for investment opportunities in media and entertainment companies disrupted by the advent of the Internet and other digital technologies.

Kat: And to think, it was Madonna who got dubbed with the "Material Girl" and "no heart" tags.

Kat just lets it flow. I think that's a) why she's often not aware that she's been covering an issue and b) why her coverage is so amazing to read. There's no struggle with Kat, it's "Here are my words the way I speak and that's that. It is what it is."

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse.
Hannah Arendt, 20th-century German political philosopher and author.