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Saturday March 20, 2004

I was reading the latest Rich Galen posting from Iraq where he calmly and factually explains the recent delay in the signing of the Iraqi Constitution:

On Friday, all was in place: The press was there. Invited guests were there. The document was there. The table was there. The chair was there. The pens were there. All that was missing was the Iraqi Governing Council.

Two o'clock drifted into four o'clock.

At 11:30 pm the word came down that there would be no signing and the table, pens, and everything else were put away.

It turned out that the Shi'as (also known as Shi'ites) were objecting to a technical aspect of the document which, they said, might give the Kurds (from the Northern portion of Iraq) effective veto power over a permanent constitution and they wanted the weekend to talk about it.

On Sunday they said they would show up on Monday to sign it.

On Monday everything was put back into place, the chair, the table (which was King Faisal's table someone said) the pens and the document and, at the appointed hour, the members of the Iraqi Governing Council indeed filed in, took their seats and the ceremony began.

After a prayer and a few speeches, the members were called up one-by-one, and one-by-one they signed their names. A great cheer went up from the gathered crowd and, to tell the truth, a little celebration took place back at the old Palace to congratulate the Coalition Provisional Authority folks who had worked - literally - day and night to get this accomplished.

Now, doesn't this seem a little more realistic than all the breathless reporting that there are "deep divisions" and the talks have "collapsed", etc:

Iraq's U.S.-picked leaders failed to meet a Saturday deadline for adopting an interim constitution. The delay signaled the deep divisions over how to distribute power among the country's ethnic and religious factions and to balance Islam and secularism. It also marked the latest glitch in U.S. plans to hand sovereignty to the Iraqis on June 30.

More breathless reporting here:

Plans to sign an Iraqi interim constitution collapsed yesterday, with leaders of the majority Shi'ite Muslims demanding changes that would give them dominant control of Iraq's presidency when the Americans hand over power June 30.

So I started reading the Iraqi interim constitution, officially called the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL), which is essentially an Iraqi Bill of Rights and was struck by this particular clause:

"The individual has the right to security, education, healthcare and social security."

What ever happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness...and yes, a new Lexus....and a pony.

Friday March 19, 2004

I'll devote today to some views from the left. These are serious individuals who have legitimate viewpoints on the top issues of the day. Try not to laugh. First up is Jimmy Jenkins, writing in The Indiana Statesman. Mr. Jenkins believes that we are losing the War on Terror (results notwithstanding) Hey, take these views seriously--ed. and that we need a new game plan. Here's some of what he asserts.

Why do I think the terrorists are winning? There are several reasons. The Popular party in Spain, our ally in the "Coalition of the Willing Comedy Troupe," was recently defeated in an upset victory by Socialists. The reason: It is believed that Al-Qaida was responsible for the Madrid train bombings in retaliation for Spain's support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Perhaps in Indiana 1 = several. I scoured the article for another reason why the terrorists are winning, but found nothing. So, OK, for all these myriad reasons, we have clearly seen that the terrorists are winning. What to do, what to do. Serious thinker that he is, Mr. Jenkins has come up with a game plan:

First and foremost, America needs to save some face and become a model member of the United Nations. Instead of charging headlong into conflicts with our six-shooters blazing, we need to seek the input of the global community and start directing our money and troops to the U.N. to deal with areas like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Haiti and others.

Again, results not withstanding. No matter that the U.N. has proven itself to be utter feckless in controlling regional conflicts and disputes. Eleven years of U.N. resolutions and sanctions against Iraq did exactly what? Allowed Saddam to rape the entire country while illegally skimming BILLIONS from the U.N. Oil-for-Palace program. OK, so we need to pour more money down a rat-hole into the U.N., what else?

Another step necessary to truly make progress in the war on terrorism is to utilize our resources and economic might to go after those who finance acts of terror, even if those individuals are Saudis, exporters of oil and/or friends of the Bush family.

Money talks. While terrorists claim to act in the name of the personal god or outright hatred of the United States, many also commit atrocities in exchange for financial gain promised by the enemies of our country. Cutting off these finances across the board would surely go a long way in curbing the increasing terrorism around the world.

Well, finally something I completely agree with. By the way, so does President Bush. How do I know? Because we're already doing this. OK, so we're 50-50, what's the third step:

We do not know for sure how Kerry would wage a war on terrorism, but we do know how Bush would continue. We know Bush's plan isn't working, and we know he is stubborn enough to keep right on with business, other opinions be damned, until he has his way or doomsday...

...It's time to begin anew. While Kerry may have had conflicting views on the war on terror, I like our chances with someone who is open minded and has the courage to seek out the root of the problem. Until we get a new president with a new plan, the terrorists will surely continue to win.

Bully! So since there are numerous indications that we are losing the war on terror (Spain pulled a France), we should throw money at the U.N., stop the flow of money to the terrorists (as if terrorists and the U.N. are mutually exclusive), and elect John Kerry. Excellent game plan. My only question is: whose side is Mr. Jenkins on?

We already know whose side Paul Krugman is on:

A year ago, President Bush, who had a global mandate to pursue the terrorists responsible for 9/11, went after someone else instead. Most Americans, I suspect, still don't realize how badly this apparent exploitation of the world's good will and the subsequent failure to find weapons of mass destruction damaged our credibility. They imagine that only the dastardly French, and now maybe the cowardly Spaniards, doubt our word. But yesterday, according to Agence France-Presse, the president of Poland which has roughly 2,500 soldiers in Iraq had this to say: "That they deceived us about the weapons of mass destruction, that's true. We were taken for a ride." (emphasis added)

Of course Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski doesn't say who "they" are. "They" could be the Saddam regime. "They" could be the intelligence services from numerous countries. "They" could be the U.N. whose Security Council had passed numerous resolutions calling for Saddam to give up his WMD's. Judging from the original article it's unclear exactly who "they' is. Of course if you're Paul Krugman, you just assume he's referring to President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Of course, Kwasniewski understands, better than Krugman, the nature of the conflict because he also said these choice words (which Krugman chose to ignore).

"What would be the point of pulling the troops if it meant a return to war, ethnic cleansing and conflict in neighboring countries." "We cannot alter our mission to stabilize Iraq to one to destabilize the country." "Passiveness will lead us nowhere."

Today, Kwasniewski also said this.

Finally, someone who does not understand the nature of the conflict, John Kerry:

Before the war started, I repeatedly called on the President to build a genuine coalition to reduce the military and financial burden on the United States, to go to war only as a last resort, and to have a plan to win the peace. I voted to give him the authority to go to war only when he promised me and other members in Congress that he would do these things. He broke those promises.

"He misled the American people in his own State of the Union Address about Saddam's nuclear program and WMD's, and refused - and continues to refuse - to level with the American people about the cost of the war. Simply put, this President didn't tell the truth about the war for the beginning. And our country is paying the price.

"It's time for George Bush to start being consistent on Iraq. It's time for him to finally find the right policy for Iraq. It's time to take the target's off the backs of U.S. soldiers, reduce the burden on America's taxpayers, and finish the job in Iraq."

Does this guy even listen to what he says? In one sentence he urges the President to "start being consistent on Iraq". The very next sentence he says that Bush needs to "find the right policy for Iraq". This ain't the Senate, Senator. People are actually listening to you. Try to tighten it up a bit.

Wednesday March 17, 2004

21st Century satire. Good idea, poor execution.

Here's a really interesting article on the "continuity of government" exercises during the Reagan Administration from the Atlantic Monthly:

he outline of the plan was simple. Once the United States was (or believed itself about to be) under nuclear attack, three teams would be sent from Washington to three different locations around the United States. Each team would be prepared to assume leadership of the country, and would include a Cabinet member who was prepared to become President. If the Soviet Union were somehow to locate one of the teams and hit it with a nuclear weapon, the second team or, if necessary, the third could take over.

No matter what your political stripe, please do this.

Now the Islamacists are threatening France:

A letter from an Islamist group threatens to plunge France into "terror and remorse," the newspaper that received the letter said Tuesday.

It just goes to show that you cannot appease or capitulate to a group whose only ambition is to kill you. Read more here.

Hopefully, we'll eventually learn all the details of the Oil-for-Palace program which was "monitored" by the U.N. We're getting more details every day. Wanna bet that Kerry's "foreign leaders" are the same foreign leaders who benefited from the Saddam slush fund?

Kofi Annan's right-hand man, Benon Sevan, had been named by the secretary general to head the oil-for-food program and report directly to him. Though he could not deny a favored French banking connection, Sevan branded as "inaccuracies" charges by Ms. Rosett and me of secrecy, citing a hundred audits in five years. But he refused to make public what companies in what countries got Saddam's largess.

Now, thanks to evidence of systematic thievery on a huge scale, discovered by free Iraqis in Baghdad, the whole rotten mess of 10 percent kickbacks on billions in contracts is coming to light. In detailed accounts, Susan Sachs in The Times, Therese Raphael in The Wall Street Journal, and Charles Laurence and Inigo Gilmore of London's Daily Telegraph have flipped over the flat rock of corruption.

Assistant Secretary General Sevan, now on an extended vacation until his retirement next month, denied through a spokesman "that I had received oil or oil monies from the former Iraqi regime" and demanded that his doubters produce documentary evidence. The Journal then produced a document in Arabic that suggests Sevan received an allocation of 1.8 million barrels of oil.

Under the U.N. bureaucracy's nose and I suspect, in some cases, with its collusion nearly three-quarters of the suppliers jacked up their prices to pay the 10 percent kickback. These included European manufacturers, Arab trade brokers, Russian factories and Chinese state-owned companies. Corruption's take out of the mouths of hungry Iraqi children was estimated by Sachs of The Times at $2.3 billion.

In March of last year Kerry characterized the coalition to liberate Iraq as a "trumped-up, so-called coalition of the bribed, the coerced, the bought and the extorted". Perhaps he simply misspoke and was really talking about the opposition.

Finally, I seem to remember a bunch of lefties saying that the U.S. was killing Iraqi children because of the sanctions. I wonder if they'll now accuse the French, Germans, Russians and the UN of killing Iraqi children.