Saturday, October 04, 2003

French Missiles 

Does this news really surprise anyone?
FRENCH-made anti-aircraft missiles built earlier this year have been found in Iraq.

Government officials in Paris were last night struggling to explain how, despite a UN arms embargo being in place for more than 20 years, hi-tech French weaponry made its way to Baghdad.

The sale of French missiles to Iraq at a time when Saddam Hussein was trying to bolster his defences against the looming US invasion threatens to derail efforts to repair the diplomatic damage suffered as a result of Paris's refusal to support military action.

France opposed U.N. involvement in Iraq and President ChIRAQ stands in opposition to the new resolution to rebuild the country. With this new find, it is as clear as ever who France is allies with.

UPDATE: It appears that the Poles were mistaken. It also appears that there is some bad blood developing between France and Poland.

Friday, October 03, 2003

The Council has Spoken 

The Watcher's Council has met and has voted on the posts of the week:

   Winning Council Entry:
    Money is NOT the Answer! by Alpha Patriot

   Winning Non-Council Entry:
    Michael Moore's Call to Arms by Brain Terminal

The Indecisive Executive 

Something is happening with the Bob Graham campaign, but no one knows exactly what:
Initially, the Graham campaign announced a news conference for 2 p.m. Friday, suggesting he would quit the race
Ok. Bob Graham is quitting the Presidential race.
But late Thursday, the campaign and the Florida Democratic Party said there would be no news conference.

"Senator Graham has decided to soldier on," said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox.

Maybe not. In the spirit of Strong Mad, he is going to "keep it going".
At least one staffer left amid the speculation about Graham's future.

"This was just the right time for me to move on," said Jamal Simmons, who served as spokesman for the campaign.

Hmmm. His campaign spokesman has quit - maybe he really is leaving the race!
Graham, leaving one of several staff meetings, said, "We'll make a decision shortly."
I understand now. He just hasn't decided yet.
Graham called off a fund-raiser Thursday night in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Spokesman Paul Anderson said Graham canceled the event in hopes of making a Senate vote.
Canceled fundraiser? He is definitely quitting.
A Friday evening fund-raiser in West Palm Beach will still go on, Anderson said.
What? Why continue to raise funds if you are quitting the race?

I think the entire Bob Graham campaign only leaves one possible conclusion: This man (running for president or not) does not have the decision making capability required of any executive position. Running or not, he is already out of the race. What is not known is if it will take him as long to decide to quit as it took him to decide to run?

Flying Dinars 

New Iraqi Dinars are being flown into the country and guarded by troops from Fiji:
CARGO flights are ferrying Iraq's new currency into this northern airbase daily in preparation for its launch later this month, a senior US military officer said today.

He said the new dinar banknotes were being guarded by a contingent of Fijians in a remote corner of Camp Qayyarah, 350 kilometres north of Baghdad, which was once used by ousted president Saddam Hussein's airforce.

"That's affirmative, the currency is being delivered here and looked after by the Fijians but it's a separate operation and has nothing to do with us," the officer, from the 101st Airborne Division, told AFP.

The old dinar, with Saddam's smiling face etched upon it, is destined for the dustbins of history within the next two weeks.

Additional information on how the dinars will be phased in is here:
On 15 October, new Iraqi dinar banknotes will be available. They will replace the existing Iraqi “print” dinars at parity. After 15 October there will be three months to swap the existing notes for new ones.
Of course, if a person was interested in a "Saddam dinar", the are still available...at least on Ebay.

Thursday, October 02, 2003

The Disenfranchisement of the U.N. 

It appears that the sovereignty of the U.N. has been snubbed, and the Secretary General is not taking it sitting down:
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday a new U.S. draft resolution on Iraq does not follow his recommendation for a quick transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.

A quick transfer would facilitate the United Nations' work in Iraq and make it easier for other countries to contribute troops and money without having to go through the U.S.-British occupation authorities.

The revised resolution endorses a step-by-step transfer of authority to an Iraqi interim administration but sets no timetable for the handover of sovereignty and leaves the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in overall c control until elections are held at some future unspecified date.

So Mr. Annan is complaining because his own suggestions for Iraq are not being followed. If his recommendations were followed back in early 2003, the regime of Saddam Hussein would still be in power and would still be doing this. It is not entirely clear why he thinks his ideas would carry weight with the United States and Great Britain, since they violated the U.N. Charter when they liberated the people of Iraq.

It sounds like the Secretary General is just trying to find a way to legitimize himself. After all, his primary claim to fame are the diplomatic relations he had with Saddam Hussein in 1990, again in 1998 and finally (and most unsuccessfully) in 2003. The U.N. does need to find a new cash cow to replace the Conflict of Interest (also known as the Oil-for-Food program) program which is going away in November.

Or perhaps the U.N.'s demand to control all humanitarian aid in Iraq is to protect themselves. They may want to just roll the existing Oil-for-Food program into a new Iraq Humanitarian program. This would be much superior to actually closing the books on the largest of all U.N. programs because the books are starting to look a little Enronesque:

With less than two months until the UN is due to hand over control of Iraq's multi-billion dollar oil-for-food programme to the US-led coalition in Baghdad, US officials say they have yet to ascertain exactly where all the money is.
Any readers interested in the differences between the two draft resolutions can find details here.
UPDATE: Not wanting to miss the whine festival, the French have gotten into the act as well:
France has criticised the United States' latest draft resolution on the future of Iraq, saying it does not deal with its concerns.

"The revised text does not address our wishes," France UN ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the Security Council met to discuss the document.

Remember the French? They are the folks who voted against any type of action against Saddam Hussein, and most likely engaged in illegal trade with a sanctioned Iraq. They profited greatly from the oil-for-food program and balked about lifting those same sanctions once Saddam was deposed (although they did grudgingly agree in the end).

The Iraqi people have been rejoicing for 8 months that the actions of the Coalition did not address the wishes of the French.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

War on Terror 

Here is a round-up of recent global news regarding terrorism:
Israel: Israeli commandos arrest a leader of the militant Islamic Jihad (hiding under a car) as well as 14 other wanted Palestinians
Belgium: Belgium convicts a former professional soccer player who joined the al Qaeda terrorist network for plotting to bomb a NATO base
Philippines: Philippines appoints anti-terrorism ambassador
Bali: Bali Bomber Begs President for Lighter Sentence
Britain: Britain arrests 11 North African men on suspicion of terrorism
Australia Australia and Japan build counter-terrorism ties
Kenya: Nairobi Police Interrogate Two Terror Suspects
Spain: Interpol Plans Anti-Terrorism Database
Terrorism is obviously a global problem, not just a U.S. or Israeli one.

Arianna Leaves in a Huff 

Does anyone else find this amusing?
Facing single-digit poll support, commentator-turned politician Arianna Huffington pulled out of the race to replace Gov. Gray Davis -- and then abruptly vowed to fight to keep him in office.
Arianna's political run has been full of entertaining ironies. She has railed against the 'evil' gas-guzzling SUV. She drives a Toyota Prius, but her last vehicle was a Lincoln Navigator. She has proclaimed that she wanted to "look at the way that our taxes don't fall equally on the privileged elite". Good for her, except then the facts about her own tax situation emerged: she paid no state income tax and $771 in federal taxes over the last two years. Now, after campaigning to recall Grey Davis and replace him with herself, she bows out of the race and proclaims that he is the best choice after all!
Huffington, who was one of Davis's harshest critics on the campaign trail, on Tuesday urged her supporters to vote against the effort to remove the Democratic governor as 'the only way now to defeat Arnold Schwarzenegger.'
There may have been a reason for her continuous single digit polling: the credibility factor.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Call Me...Call Me...You Can Call Me Anytime At All...Call Me! 

If you are following the Federal Registry formerly known as "Do-Not-Call", here is an update:
The legal wrangling over the national do-not-call list intensified yesterday even as telemarketers said they would stop calling those Americans who put their numbers on the list.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer yesterday declined the telemarketing industry's request to stop the Federal Communications Commission from enforcing the rule that would impose fines on marketers who call any of the more than 50 million telephone numbers now on the list.

Yet hours later, a federal judge in Denver issued an order saying the FCC was not to use the list. The decision, from the same judge who ruled the do-not-call list unconstitutional last week, is just one more legal twist in the increasingly bitter fight over the government's anti-telemarketing rules.

The more information that comes out, the more it seems this decision is less about free speech and more about Edward W. Nottingham:
After U.S. District Judge Edward W. Nottingham banned the FTC last week from enforcing the list, the FCC said it would take control of the registry. But last night Nottingham issued a new order saying the FCC should do no such thing. In his order, he said the FTC should stop 'trying to skirt' his earlier decision. 'A person enjoined cannot do indirectly through another what it is prohibited from doing directly,' he wrote.
It is apparent that free speech violation is not at stake here. Every business in the United States is free to talk about their products. They are even free to give their sales pitch into the telephone for as many hours as they choose. They just can't dial my number before doing it (but I'm sure the dial tone is more than happy to listen!)

I'd Like to Thank the Academy... 

Each week Truth Laid Bear has a New Weblog Showcase. I submitted an article last week and the results are in:
  1. King of Fools: Caucasian Club ( 44 links)
  2. Tom's Nap Room: I hate cruelty to animals ( 21 links)
  3. Simon world: Big Bad Bill ( 9 links)
  4. citizen lehew: Who Ate My Democracy? ( 8 links)
  5. Patriot Paradox: The Death of Holly Patterson: RU-486 Claims Another Victim ( 4 links)
  6. Random Fate: Good advice ( 3 links)
  7. The Populist: Reaganomics at War ( 2 links)
  8. Freedom In Iran: Freedom In Iran ( 2 links)
  9. Economists for Dean: Welcome to Economists for Dean! ( 1 links)
This more than makes up for the Watcher's Council last week, where I submitted the same article and received nary a vote. Thanks to those who did link to me and also for all the extra traffic you have brought me over the last few days! I realize that most of it won't stick, but I'm still appreciative.

Monday, September 29, 2003

U.S. Credibility 

This article presents a novel attitude towards the Iraq war, at least for a major media organization:
When a beloved cleric was murdered at a holy shrine in the Iraqi town of Najaf and suspects got caught boasting about it at an Internet cafe, the outraged townspeople didn't lynch them - instead, they got marched off to the police. It's a small but telling hint that despite decades of Saddam Hussein's brutality, the Iraqi people have the potential be a bulwark of Mideast democracy - and also a clue to the logic behind President Bush's policy.

The cover of this week's Time magazine blares: 'Mission Not Accomplished' - as if the Iraq war has suddenly morphed into a total failure. But is that true?

The mission was to get rid of Saddam. He's gone from power. It's an ongoing frustration that he hasn't been caught, but his removal has already brought a major shift in the Middle East, the center of terrorist threats.

Oddly enough, Saddam's exit has been most quickly accepted in the Arab world. The famous 'Arab street' didn't erupt. Al-Jazeera TV lost some credibility. And post-Saddam Iraqi leaders were welcomed into OPEC and the Arab League.

It hasn't led to instant Arab-Israeli peace, but it has enormously reduced the potential support for Mideast terror. Saddam is no longer there to bribe the families of homicide bombers. No one but terrorists regrets his fall.

And others, notably Russian President Vladimir Putin this weekend, have joined Bush in warning the other two nations with Iraq in his 'Axis of Evil' - North Korea and Iran - against any nuclear-weapons ambitions.

All of which suggests that Bush's action against Iraq strengthened America's credibility around the world, rather than weakening it as critics claim.

After Bush spoke to the United Nations last week, the loudest foes of the Iraq war - France and Germany - rushed to snuggle up to the president and say they'd like a role in postwar Iraq.

There is no action that the United States can take which will quell the hatred of her enemies. Despite billions of dollars of foreign aid and assistance, a large portion of the world still considers the U.S. as infidel and there is nothing that can change that. If one cannot gain the love of your enemies, the next best thing is their respect. That is why the credibility which has been gained through U.S. action in Afghanistan and Iraq will work toward achieving peace in the future. Mr. Teddy Roosevelt's big stick is only of value when the other party understands it is more than just a prop.

Phone Wars 

At the end of the latest Howard Kurtz column, this little gem resides:
CNN's Tucker Carlson thought he was having a bit of fun when, during a 'Crossfire' segment in which he defended telemarketers, he was asked for his home number but recited the number of the Fox News Washington bureau instead. Fox retaliated by posting Carlson's unlisted Virginia number on its Web site.

After his wife was deluged with obscene calls, Carlson says, he went to Fox's Capitol Hill bureau Friday to complain, and was told his number would be taken down if he apologized on the air. Fox spokeswoman Irena Briganti says Carlson was 'completely irresponsible' and that the bureau was 'inundated' with 'vicious phone calls. . . . CNN threw the first punch here. Correcting his mistake was good journalism.'

Carlson, who apologized on 'Crossfire' but also criticized Fox's form of retaliation, now says: 'They're a mean, sick group of people. Don't harass my wife and kids. Even the Mafia doesn't do that.'

Demanding a correction was a pretty smooth move for Fox. It is amusing that Fox got visious phone calls but even more amusing that they were intended for Tucker Carlson. It seems only fair that these callers should be able to air their complaint to their intended target. Also, why does Carlson knows the Fox News number by heart?

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Nigerians for Arianna 

If I had been drinking something when I read Hugh Hewitt this morning, I would be needing a new keyboard:
Finally today, Arianna went to Fresno to declare, according to the Fresno Bee, that 'she has received several thousand e-mails from women saying they felt empowered after watching her in Wednesday night's debate.' Arianna went on to say that she was suprised by the size of the viewing audience in Nigeria, and that she expected to be able to fully fund her campaign for the final ten days based on offers of support she had received in these e-mails.

Checking History 

In 1948, the American people didn't decide that Germany was a quagmire and feel the need to 'Bring 'em home!" This nifty comparison of Post-Saddam Iraq to post-WW2 Germany is illuminating both in the rate of progress and the backbone of the American people today vs then:
We have made solid progress: Within two months, all major Iraqi cities and most towns had municipal councils -- something that took eight months in postwar Germany. Within four months the Iraqi Governing Council had appointed a cabinet -- something that took 14 months in Germany. An independent Iraqi Central Bank was established and a new currency announced in just two months -- accomplishments that took three years in postwar Germany. Within two months a new Iraqi police force was conducting joint patrols with coalition forces. Within three months, we had begun training a new Iraqi army -- and today some 56,000 are participating in the defense of their country. By contrast, it took 14 months to establish a police force in Germany and 10 years to begin training a new German army.
For those who could relate better to a more recent conflict, there is this:
Or take Kosovo. A driver shuttling international workers around the capital earns 10 times the salary of a university professor, and the U.N. administration pays its local staff between four and 10 times the salary of doctors and nurses. Four years after the war, the United Nations still runs Kosovo by executive fiat, issuing postage stamps, passports and driver's licenses. Decisions made by the local elected parliament are invalid without the signature of the U.N. administrator. And still, to this day, Kosovar ministers have U.N. overseers with the power to approve or disapprove their decisions.

Our objective is not to create dependency but to encourage Iraqi independence, by giving Iraqis increasing responsibility, over time, for the security and governance of their country. Because long-term stability comes not from the presence of foreign forces but from the development of functioning local institutions. The sooner Iraqis can take responsibility for their own affairs the sooner U.S. forces can come home.

Read the entire article, even if you don't care for the author. It seems that men of war, such as Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, also possess an understanding of peace.

(Hat-tip to On the Third Hand)