Monday, April 30, 2007
"L'Esprit D'Escalier": Georges Tenet and all the things he should've said before we invaded Iraq but didn't.
Read Juan Cole's piece in Salon here.
Bush's "failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-in-our-foot ...from biological anomaly"
I really wonder whether his failure to distinguish between necessary toughness and catastrophically shoot-ourselves-(America)-in-our-foot pigheadedness results from biological anomaly . His inability to harvest experience, and so to think and form successful judgments, is just so inexplicable."
From his "new" Hariri-owned apartment, Chirac forms a small group to "better serve" French interests
Jeudi 26 avril 2007
CHIRAC DEMANDE A J.-P. LAFON DE REFLECHIR A L'APRES-ELYSEE
Jacques Chirac a demandé B Jean-Pierre Lafon, ancien SG du Quai d'Orsay et ancien amb. de France en Chine, de mettre sur pied la "structure" que le chef de l'Etat dirigera apres son départ de l'Elysée,,, Tout ancien président a droit... a conserver "un petit nombre de collaborateurs". Cette équipe, sont la raison d'etre est de permettre au futur ex-président de "servir autrement" la France, travaillera sur ce que l'entourage de Chirac a qualifié de "sujets d'avenir", notamment "l'environnement, le dialogue des cultures et le développement durable". Jacques et Bernadette Chirac vont s'installer a ... quai Volatire (VIIe), dans un appartement preté par la famille de l'ancien Premier Ministre libanais assassiné, Rafic Hariri. L'entourage du chef de l'Etat a assuré qu'aucun chiffre n'avait été fixé concernant le budget de la future fondation ni sur le nombre de collaborateurs de M. Chirac," NI LA SOURCE DE CES FONDS PRECISE GPC!!!
Sunday, April 29, 2007
"... al Qaeda is well placed to threaten global security in the near future. Because it thrives on failed and failing states, it will have opportunities to set up new operations. One appealing option may be Lebanon, where extremist Sunni groups have long operated, particularly in the country's second-largest city, Tripoli, which was controlled by a Sunni fundamentalist group during much of the 1980s, before Syria cracked down. If the Lebanese state is further weakened or civil war breaks out, al Qaeda may seek a foothold there. The United Nations force stationed in Lebanon is likely to be a target, since the jihadists consider it to be another crusading army in the Muslim world."
Read the full WaPo article here.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Patrick seale: "assassination of Hariri is not grave international crime requiring judgement by a UN tribunal"
Read full comment here.
Read full NYTimes article here.
" ...US intelligence services were particularly interested in his activities in relation to Iran, he said. It believes in addition to supporting terrorist activities in Iraq, Mr Hadi was involved in "causing problems in Iran as well", he said. Mr Hadi wanted Iranian al-Qaeda operatives to be more aggressive in their attacks in Iraq and possibly in Iran as well, the official said..."Read more at the BBC and at the Times
Friday, April 27, 2007
Read more here and here.
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her top aides had considered postponing or downplaying the release of this year’s edition, due to the extreme political sensitivities, several officials said. But ultimately, they decided to issue the report on or about the congressionally mandated deadline of Tuesday, the officials said."
The phrase "slam dunk" didn't refer to whether Saddam Hussein actually had WMDs, says Tenet; the CIA thought he did. He says he was talking about what information could be used to make that case when he uttered those words. "We can put a better case together for a public case. That's what I meant," explains Tenet.
....He says he doesn't know who leaked it but says there were only a handful of people in the room.
"It's the most despicable thing that ever happened to me," Tenet says. "You don't do this. You don't throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection. Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."
Thursday, April 26, 2007
US officials agree that the government of Nouri Al Maliki will have to be faced with deadlines, but differ on how much to increase the pressure without undermining Al Maliki. Officials (and brass) are bracing themselves for a steady toll of 90-110 KIA, and anything short of that major turnaround (within the 4 months window) will spell BIG troubles for the Administration.
Lang on Petraeus: "... he sees the utility of using the less "offensive" groups against the more "offensive" ones"
Inciters of Sectarian Strife & Sedition score one in Beirut: Bodies of two kidnapped young boys found ...
read the full essay here and read Le Monde's piece "Liban : le dernier combat du président Chirac" here.
Le Monde summarizes what is on most people's minds on both sides of the Mediterranean, " ...Le fait que M. Chirac et son épouse aient choisi de loger, après leur départ de l'Elysée, dans un vaste appartement parisien prêté par l'un des fils de M. Hariri ne fait que souligner le poids du facteur personnel dans l'attachement du président français au dossier du Liban..."
Update: (from Greg Sargent) " ...It gets better. I just heard back from the author, David Espo. He told me: "I didn't write anything remotely like that. My name was on the story and I didn't write it anything like the way it was printed."
I REST MY CASE!
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Laura Bush wants you to know that when it comes to Iraq, no one is suffering more than the First Couple. No one.
No one. Not the millions of Iraqi families who have lost someone or live in the fear of losing someone. Not the families of over 30,000 killed or wounded American servicemen. Not the over FOUR millions Iraqi refugees ... NO one!
Lord have mercy!
"... Basically, first-term president Bush, you invaded to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein. And you, current president Bush, are there to battle the threat created by the lack of Saddam Hussein..."
see full story here.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
read all piece here and here.
Wolfowitz Hires Star DC Lawyer In World Bank Scandal
Associated Press JEANNINE AVERSA April 23, 2007 09:18 PM
World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz has hired a prominent attorney as he fights to keep his job, in jeopardy for arranging a generous compensation package for a bank employee with whom he has been romantically linked.
"I want to be sure that he receives appropriate treatment and fair treatment," Robert Bennett ... a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, said Monday.
"The probability that the Kagan/Keene/Petraeus method will actually pacify parts of Iraq is not the subject of this post.Here, I am concerned with the additional risks that this method imposes on the troops involved" says Col. Pat Lang.
Read more here.
Lebanese Judicial Document: "Amine Gemayel informs authorities that Geagea asked him to leave or he'll be "eliminated"
NEW Poll by Beirut's "Information International: Nassrallah & Aoun top the "leadership" echelon ... emigration a serious issue
--Hassan Nasrallah remains the "first Zai'm", but his popularity shows some fatigue.
--Nassrallah, Aoun, Jumblatt and Hariri remain well entrenched at the leadership of their sectarian constituencies.
--BUT 24% of ALL RESPONDENTS, showed NO preference to "any Zai'm".
--Over 30% of respondents showed a SERIOUS inclination towards emigration, up from 15% in August 2006'
--Around 12% of Lebanese "youth" have submitted some type of "emigration form." (about 135,000 applicants)
--55% of all respondents had some "fears of a resumption of civil hostilities", but over 60% believed in a brighter future ... starting just about November 2007'.
--US, French, British and Iranian ambassadors generate most vitriol as to their "blatant interference." Saudi ambassador recorded most "positive."
"The Syrian Ambassador to the US didn't used to get many visitors. Suddenly, his date book is filling up. What he makes of the new American outreach- and how Syria hopes to gain from it"
Read Full interview here.
Monday, April 23, 2007
From IraqSlogger's "Eye On Congress" we learn that the proposed Senate bill that will call for redeployment and set a schedule will "immediately transitions the U.S. mission away from policing a civil war— to training and equipping Iraqi security forces, protecting U.S. forces and conducting targeted counter-terror operations."
Read IraqSlooger's piece here.
Syria's Ambassador: Imad Moustapha: "Israel will eventually realize that it can’t continue with a military solution forever"
Confusion persists over whether or not the US military will continue with its plan to build the Sunni "walled ghetto"
Read Full IraqSlogger article here.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
From Talking Points, and Josh Marshall comes "A time-out from the scandal. World Bank Prez Paul Wolfowitz shares a moment with Jeri Kehn, wife of fmr. Senator and possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner ..."
Read full story here.
One thing though, Ghadri's qualificatons are close to nill, but a good word from Meyrav Wurmser would be handy.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Read full article here.
Friday, April 20, 2007
"U.S. soldiers are building a three-mile wall to protect a Sunni Arab enclave surrounded by Shiite neighborhoods in a Baghdad area ... When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community of Azamiyah, ... will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers ... "Shiites are coming in and hitting Sunnis, and Sunnis are retaliating across the street," ... It said the concrete wall, including barriers as tall as 12 feet, "is one of the centerpieces of a new strategy by coalition and Iraqi forces to break the cycle of sectarian violence" in Baghdad. " -- Yahoo News
To this, Col. Lang offered the following comment:
"Mahalle," "Mukhtar," "Muhtasib." These are terms in Arabic that one should become familiar with:"Mahalle" signifies a "quarter" of a pre-modern Islamicate city, functioning as a sub-jurisdiction underneath a city government. (It is one of several Arabic words for that.) They were often walled and had an inner social and business life as well. Such subdivisions of European cities were also common before the renaissance. Within a "mahalle" lived the self-segregated members of ethnic, guild, sectarian and tribal groups. People grouped themselves in that way because they did not trust others outside their own groups. Typically the streets on the outer edges of the "mahalle" were open at first and then were gradually encroached on by building until it was easy to put up a gate and install watchmen. Yes, I know, we have gated communities in the
"Mukhtar" denotes the "selectman" of a "mahalle." He is the community leader.
A "muhtasib" was an official of a "mahalle" who supervised the economic activity and markets of a "mahalle."
This kind of organization of Islamicate cities gradually disappeared in most places in the late 19th and 20th Centuries C.E. It disappeared as the colonial
powers sought to impose the kind of town planning that they were familiar with
and as early independent governments sought to foster a civic life centered on
inter-communal loyalty and "national" identity.
Baghdad was a lot like that before 2003. There were still places in the city that were inhabited by all one thing or another but the trend was towards integration in housing and in marriage.
We are successfuly re-medievalizing Baghdad, so it would be a good idea to become familiar with the old terms. They are lurking in the back of the collective mind of the city and will be back.
Read more here and here.
Reminder: The "Bros" are the back bone of the "Syrian Salvation Front" with dissident former Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam as "front president."
" ... The tribunal is less driven by the fortunes of Bush than you think. There is a real bureaucratic and policy consensus at this point that drives the process. This is not a mere Bush fantasy, this is an consensual approach of the US, Canada, the EU, key Arab states, implemented though UNSC resolutions and actions. It won't survive after 2009, but until then, that's what policy toward Syria and Lebanon will look like."
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Read the full article here.
Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research, November 2006
Israelis are unique in that they trust the United States to act responsibly in the world, believe it takes Israel’s interests into account, and think it should maintain its current number of overseas military bases. Nonetheless, only one quarter of Israelis (24%) say the United States should "continue to be the preeminent world leader in solving international problems." Like most other publics, a majority (62%) thinks it should instead "do its share" with other countries in solving international problems. Only 10 percent would like it to withdraw from most efforts to solve international problems." Asked whether the United States is "playing the role of world policeman more than it should be," Israelis are evenly divided (48% agree, 48% disagree). Israelis express very high confidence that the United States will act responsibly in the world: 81 percent say they trust the United States to do so a great deal (56%) or somewhat (25%); just 16 percent say they do not trust the United States to act responsibly. An overwhelming majority of Israelis ((including 57 percent who say it does so "a great deal"). Israel is the only country out of seven polled where a majority believes the United States takes their interests into account. A majority of Israelis (59%) believe the United States should either maintain or increase its overseas bases: 39 percent want it to keep the current number and 20 percent think there should be more. Twenty-two percent think 16 the number should be decreased. A slight majority of Israelis (52%) believes that relations with the United States are staying about the same, while one-third (32%) believes they are improving and just 12 percent say they are getting worse.
Read Full Report here.
McCain then added, "Iran is dedicated to the destruction of Israel. That alone should concern us but now they are trying for nuclear capabilities. I totally support the President when he says we will not allow Iran to destroy Israel."
The paper notes that McCain stopped short of answering the actual question and did not say if he supports an invasion of Iran."
From Joshua Landis (SyriaComment) comes a good essay by Emile El Hokayem (Henri Stimson Center, Washington, DC) on Hezballah and Syria, read it full here.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
" ... An aide to (former President) Hrawi, ... said that the United States had essentially told Hrawi and the Syrians: “We will not give you a green light, but you are a legitimate government we recognize, and we understand any step you may have to take. If you succeed, we will congratulate you. If the battle is prolonged, we will have to express our regret over the continued violence in Lebanon. If you fail, we will not condemn the action but call on the Lebanese to resort to dialogue to sort out their differences.”
Read more here in "The American Raj Requires Instability"
Read full article here.
"... I've been interested in the news today that Victoria Toensing is claiming
Ms. Riza to be a volunteer for her trip to Iraq. The Government Accountability
Project has put up the contract that SAIC had for this work here:
Not so sure why SAIC would need a contract for a volunteer. This contract names Riza and two others as Subject Matter Experts and the total contract is for $235,000.
It is for Time and Materials (with the government providing transportation) --
even given that SAIC likely took 1/3 of this for overhead, this is a decent
amount of money for 90 days of work that does not seem to result in any written reports. ..."
Interview with Ziad Baroud, member of the National Council for a New Electoral Law
--What is your reading of the current political crisis?
Lebanon's crisis is due to a state-building process that did not get off to the right start; attempts to build the state were aborted and failed to create institutions able to manage the country's political and sectarian diversity. Lebanon thus became an arena for local, regional, and international contestation, with political factions that do not conceal their ties with the outside world. Political forces in Lebanon cannot be isolated from all external connections or alliances, but there must be limits, so that such alliances do not undermine the state. The problem is that the 1926 Lebanese constitution, amended in 1990 after the Taif Agreement, allows for manipulation by political forces.
--So where does the blame lie for Lebanon's crisis of institutions, and what is the solution?
There is plenty of blame to go around. Let us consider Lebanon's three major political institutions: the offices of president, speaker of parliament, and prime minister. The presidency's crisis began the day President Emile Lahoud's tenure was extended. Until then the Lebanese state was different from other countries in the Arab world, and actually encouraged the transfer of power. We have not had presidents who wanted to become kings; in fact, since 1946 any attempt by a president to extend his term has provoked a crisis. Lahoud's move hurt relations between Lebanon and the international community and provoked UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The Lebanese and President Lahoud himself have paid dearly for this extension.
Regarding the parliament, Speaker Nabih Berri called for convening a dialogue session, but one must remember that in addition to being speaker, he also heads a political force, Amal. I might not agree with him not calling Parliament into session, but Berri is not actually holding Parliament captive constitutionally because he is not obliged to set a date for the Parliamentary session. What is required of Berri now is that he manage the dialogue and avoid taking sides, because he has become the only one capable of playing this role.
Regarding the office of the prime minister, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora is under a lot of pressure. His government succeeded in several aspects, particularly in negotiating the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 under Chapter VI, not VII (which would have given the UN the right to implement the resolution by force). Siniora also pointed the way toward a Lebanese solution to the problem of Hizballah's arms, leading the government to approve a seven-point plan on which Resolution 1701 was based. The problem today is political polarization, and I do not know if it could have been prevented. The demonstrations and tent camp near the prime minister's headquarters have made Siniora a prisoner in this tragic scene, which seems out of character for Lebanon. This country has never seen one group able to dominate the other, and this diversity created a sort of internal balance. Now the presidency, parliament, and prime ministry are in crisis; it is impossible to imagine a solution unless we reexamine the nature of our institutions.
--The Lebanese government seems to be bucking opposition demands, especially regarding an international tribunal to investigate the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri. How will this showdown be resolved?
I think that the government cannot give the opposition everything it is demanding. The government is supported by a parliamentary majority; Hizballah's supporters demonstrated in the streets because they could not exert that sort of pressure via the parliament. The government and the opposition will be forced to concede some demands, but each faction is holding its ground for now because they know that neither has the upper hand—hence the deadlock. As for the recent petition by seventy parliamentarians asking the UN Secretary General for an international tribunal, it is notable that it did not face large-scale opposition. In fact, approving a tribunal system under Chapter VI could suit everyone: the opposition and Berri would have taken a stance against it, but if it were passed in the Security Council, they would save face and survive this crisis. A tribunal under Chapter VII, without Lebanese consent, would be far more problematic. I am not confident, in any case, that the UN is ready to set the precedent of forming a tribunal under Chapter VII to investigate an assassination.
Ziad Baroud is a lawyer, human rights activist, and member of the National Council for a New Electoral Law. This interview was conducted by Omayma Abdel Latif, an Egyptian journalist and Projects Coordinator at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut. It was translated from Arabic by Paul Wulfsberg.
"In what is clearly a coordinated demonstration of capability, suicide and
other bombers struck all over Baghdad today to show the world and the Shia
Arab population of Baghdad that the Petraeus/Kagan/Keene plan for the in
the course of which many Shia will suffer.The bridge demolitions last week were undoubtedly part of the plan for this counter-offensive. As can be seen
from the BBC chart below, there are many advantages to be derived by the
insurgents from isolating East Baghdad from the increasingly Sunni Arab
western side of the city.It will be interesting to see how this campaign
develops over the coming months."
By Ali A. Allawi
"The media had serious preexisting weaknesses" says author Gary Kamiya and "when a devastating terrorist attack and a radical, reckless and duplicitous administration came together, the result was a perfect storm."
A great investigative reporter added just the other day (during a Friday Lunch) that the "fear of losing access" by a vindictive Administration looms large. Remember this is an Administration who actually used the media (some) to settle political scores (PlameGate).
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
EDB, a "foreign" journalist in Beirut, writes on "Ban Ki Moon, british sailors & the good news from Iraq .."
more pearls at SLATE.com
read more here and here.
Laura Rosen, at "War & Piece" has the interview of the "National Interest" with Nicholas Sarkozy:
"... The role of France and the international community is to help the Lebanese defend the sovereignty and integrity of their country. This past summer in Lebanon, like all too often in its history, innocents paid with their lives for a conflict that was not their own. But who should the Lebanese first hold accountable for their suffering? My response is clear: first and fore most they must look to Hizballah. Because I think friendship is reinforced by honesty, I must say to our Lebanese friends that Hizballah was the aggressor. But I also say to the Israelis that their reaction was excessive and disproportionate. I have always defended with the same force the security of Israel and the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. Today, it is essential that the commission of inquiry into the assassination of Mr. Hariri must be allowed to finish its work, and that Hizballah shows that it is a political organization by setting aside its arms..."
Read Full Interview here.