Man Without Qualities

Saturday, March 22, 2003

Trending Away In Iraq

Senator Tom Daschle has infamously and intemperately blasted the President's diplomacy. But New York Times columnist Bill Keller today locates the real target of that criticism: Colin Powell.

Mr. Keller writes:

This war — undertaken at such cost to America's own interests — is specifically a failure of Colin Powell's politics. Even if you believe that this war is justified, the route to it has been an ugly display of American opportunism and bullying, dissembling and dissonance. The administration has neglected other lethal crises around the world, alienated the allies we need for almost everything else on our agenda and abandoned friends working for the kind of values we profess to be exporting. .... [O]n the battleground of ideas — on the issue of how America uses its power — Mr. Powell seems to me to have been defeated already. When the war is over, when his departure will not undermine the president during a high crisis, he should concede that defeat, and go. .... As Mr. Powell was deployed time and again to dispense credulity-straining information about our intelligence, about our purpose, I kept thinking of the wised-up passages in his autobiography, when he deplored the way Vietnam had eroded America's national conviction with "euphemism, lies and self-deception." .... Not much ... finesse has been in evidence as our leaders have cast about desperately for followers, shifting from one rationale to another, bribing and browbeating, citing questionable intelligence and dubious legalisms. When I put the question of resigning to Mr. Powell yesterday, he was, characteristically, showing no signs of surrender.

Mr. Powell is right not to resign. He is a strong, competent secretary of state whose personal progress in this crisis is fairly transparent: An initial desire to give diplomacy and international organizations a chance was transformed by Iraqi menacing intransigence and the dishonesty of international "leaders" - Messrs. Chirac, Blix and Annan being among the most prominent - into a reluctant understanding that direct United States military force was needed. Mr. Keller's asserts that the Secretary has been forced to lie and demean himself by presenting phony positions in which he does not actually believe. Such a view of the Secretary - that simultaneously criticizes him and depicts him as a mere conduit of the decisions of others - is nothing short of disgraceful.

Disgraceful, but necessary for Mr. Keller. Such blasting of Mr. Powell is a necessary step for anyone who wants to advance Mr. Daschle's argument that this president failed so miserably at diplomacy that we're now forced to war. It is just not possible to criticize the President's diplomacy without savaging the Secretary of State.

And not just the Secretary of State. Condi Rice must also expect to be hit with a variation on this meme.

And those necessities create an interesting problem for Democrats: Mr. Powell and Ms. Rice have done a sensational job - especially in the last few weeks. They have rightly been presented to the American public as key decision makers in the build-up to the war.

And they happen to be African-Americans.

They are African-Americans who have obtained vastly more power and decision making authority in time of national crisis than ever before. And, contrary to Messrs. Daschle and Heller, Mr. Powell and Ms. Rice have not proved themselves wanting. Their competence and easy authority is so powerful that most in the media have apparently ceased to even think about their race. But I'll bet minority voters know what's going on. Donna Brazille notes: "The GOP is making inroads in the black vote. It's trending away. Groups of [minority] voters are hearing the Republican message."

And my guess is that there's no message minority voters are hearing more loudly or clearly than the one that acknowledges the contributions of these two great Americans in solving the Iraq crisis and advancing the war on terror.

Blast that, Mr. Daschle.

(0) comments

Picky, Picky, Picky

Along with other media, the Wall Street Journal has noted credible reports that Saddam has outfitted some Iraqi soldiers with American and British uniforms, and is planning atrocities against his own people that he hopes to blame on coalition forces.

However, my suspicion is that, as far as most of the hard core anti-war crowd is concerned, Mr. Hussein need not have bothered being to tricky or trying to blame coalition forces for actually killing Iraqis. He could have saved himself the tailor's bill for those fake uniforms if he had only recalled the millions of murders perpetrated by the Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge after they came to power in Cambodia in the 1970's. There was no war at that time, nor anything that any sane person could consider an excuse or justification for such atrocities - or for assigning responsibility for those atrocities to anyone other than the Cambodian government and its agents. But I can recall vividly even now a Harvard professor advising me in all seriousness that those deaths, too, were for America's account because but for the American involvement in South East Asia the victims of the Khmer Rouge would not have died.

When I asked him if that reasoning made the engineers of the Golden Gate Bridge the murderers of all the people who had jumped to their deaths from that beautiful and attractive suicide center, he snarled that building the Golden Gate Bridge was not a crime. And he did not take well to my follow-up musing that his reasoning seemed a tad circular since it is strange that building a structure that kills so many people is not a crime. In any event, that conversation went on for quite a while, although I didn't have a lot of dinner conversations with him thereafter.

But the current crop of anti-war protestors seem, if anything, much worse than their Vietnam-era counterparts because the current crop seem actually nostalgic for the excesses of their "predecessors" - the two crops even have many participants in common.

So Mr. Hussein should not feel the need to be so picky, picky, picky. If he just shoots, immolates, explodes, gasses, irradiates or infects his own people outright and in front of the Western media (especially the BBC) - but makes it clear that he is only doing those things because the Americans and British are trespassing - the higher minded protestors, surely including most of the better dressed types at the UN and certain frumpier types in the Ivy League, will be willing to attribute enough of the blame for his actions to the coalition to justify in the minds of such anti-war advocates crediting those deaths to American perfidy. Indeed, from the tone of today's New York Times editorial, it would not seem hard to get that paper to adopt such a position. ("Secretary Rumsfeld, in hubristic remarks that could come back to haunt him, stressed that today's weapons had "a precision no one ever dreamt of" in the past. ... But technical glitches can thwart the best-made plans, and even a few errant bombs or missiles could cause substantial civilian damage and a backlash in world opinion, given the administration's insistence that it can pick its targets precisely.") And, as a bonus, using WMD only against his own people would allow Mr. Hussein's strongest supporter, Mr. Chirac, not to make good on his pledge to offer French help to the coalition if Iraq used WMD against coalition forces.

Wasn't Mr. Chirac clever to leave himself that loophole?
(0) comments

Do You Have Chronic Back Pain?

It's worse than you think.

The thinking part of your brain is shrinking.
(0) comments

Question Of Character

According to the Times of London, the Iraqui officers who were killed by their own men were the men who had left their soldiers hungry, poorly armed and almost destitute for weeks, judging by the state we had seen them in, while appearing to keep the money for themselves.

Nobody likes to see men murdered, but ...

(0) comments

Friday, March 21, 2003

The United Nations Drifts Further Out To Sea

The United Nations and various European countries - especially France and Germany - have recently expressed their desire for extensive UN involvement in post-liberation Iraq. That would be a mistake, in my opinion. However, it probably won't happen because, after the carnival of absurdities that recently passed for UN "action," it is almost inconceivable that Britain and the United States would give up their power to govern post-liberation Iraq in favor of the buffoons in the glass box - or some UN proxy. But that's just what France seems to be insisting on. If France keeps it up, there should be no substantal UN involvement in Iraq at all. That will further establish the need for a complete overhaul of the UN - the need to end the UN as we know it. All of which, as noted here and in prior posts, would be just fine.

Thanks, Jacques!

(0) comments

It's Not Just Daschle

The Washington Times reports:

The Democratic National Committee is asking party members to defend Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle's criticism of the way President Bush has handled the Iraq crisis even as U.S.-led forces invade the country.

(0) comments

Thursday, March 20, 2003

... And The Horse You Rode In On!

Viking Pundit gives a Times editorial the treatment his ancestors gave, say, a French coastal village.

(0) comments

America's Crazy Aunt In The Attic Goes Really Bad

Free Republic identifies the Saddam imposter!
(0) comments

Call In The Forensic Phrenologists! II

From the Washington Post:

While U.S. intelligence monitored Iraqi government communications and movements yesterday to pick up signs of Hussein's fate, the administration's attention was focused on the television appearance by Hussein in which he stated yesterday's date and made reference to "dawn" and an attack by the United States.

Officials said they were not surprised by the broadcast because they had information that the Iraqi leader had recorded several statements earlier in the week in anticipation of a military strike shortly after the expiration of a U.S. deadline for Hussein and his sons to leave the country.

Officials also said they were receiving conflicting analysis of the identity of the man in the broadcast, noting that Hussein has long been reported to use doubles as a precaution against assassination. Technical analysts, who used digital enhancement techniques and triangulation measurements of facial proportions, assessed that the broadcast depicted the real Hussein.

But the government also consulted Parisoula Lampsos, who the Defense Department believes has passed a polygraph examination in support of her claim that she was Hussein's mistress in Iraq for many years. Lampsos has previously distinguished Hussein from his doubles in more than a dozen cases, one official said, and this time she said he was not the man in the broadcast.

UPDATE: The Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Mr. Hussein was indeed on the videotape shown on Iraqi television hours after the opening attack, the White House said today.

But agency analysts could not determine when the tape was actually made, the chief White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, told reporters. Therefore, no one knows for for certain whether Mr. Hussein survived the attack, which was meant to kill him and many of his senior lieutenants.


Earlier today, U.S. intelligence sources told ABCNEWS that witnesses at the site of a Baghdad suburban residential complex told U.S. intelligence officials that Saddam was observed being taken from the bombed complex on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask over his face on Thursday before dawn local time.

At news briefing in Baghdad today, Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said the first U.S. airstrikes had hit one of Saddam's homes, but he said the Iraqi leader had survived and was safe.

(0) comments

For Those Who Would Like To Contact Tony Blair

This web page will do the trick.

I suggest that you send a good one today.

Thanks to Mike Daley.
(0) comments

For Those Who Would Like To Know Which Products Are French

From the Federalist, without warranty:

Air Liquide, Alcatel, Allegra (allergy medication), Aqualung (including: Spirotechnique, Technisub, US Divers, and SeaQuest), AXA Advisors Bank of the West (owned by BNP Paribas), Beneteau (boats), BF Goodrich (owned by Michelin), BIC (razors, pens and lighters), Biotherm (cosmetics), Black Bush, Bollinger (champagne), Car & Driver Magazine, Cartier, Chanel, Cheese labeled "Product of France", Chivas Regal (scotch), Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Club Med (vacations), Culligan (owned by Vivendi), Daniel Cremieux, Dannon (yogurt and dairy foods), DKNY, Dom Perignon, Durand Crystal, Elle Magazine, Essilor Optical Products, Evian bottled water, Fina gas stations and Fina Oil (billions invested in Iraqi oil fields), First Hawaiian Bank, George Magazine, Givenchy, Glenlivet (scotch), Hachette Filipacchi New Media, Hennessy, Houghton Mifflin (books), Jacobs Creek (owned by Pernod Ricard since 1989), Jameson (whiskey), Jerry Springer (talk show) Krups (coffee and cappuccino makers), Lancome, Le Creuset (cookware), L'Oreal (health and beauty products), Louis Vuitton, Magellan Navigational Equipment, Marie Claire, Martel Cognac, Maybelline, Mephisto (shoes and clothes), Michelin (tires and auto parts), Mikasa (crystal and glass), Moet (champagne), Motel 6, Motown Records,, Mumms (champagne), Nissan (cars; majority owned by Renault), Nivea, Normany Butter, Ondeo/Nalco Water Treatement, Parents Magazine, Peugeot (automobiles), Perrier Sparkling Water, Pierre Cardin, Playstation Magazine, ProScan (owned by Thomson Electronics, France), Publicis Group (including Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising), RCA (televisions and electronics; owned by Thomson Electronics), Red Magazine, Red Roof Inns (owned by Accor group in France), Renault (automobiles), Road & Track Magazine, Roquefort cheese (all Roquefort cheese is made in France), Rowenta (toasters, irons, coffee makers, etc,), Royal Canadian, Salomon (skis), Seagram's Gin, Sierra Software and Computer Games, Sitram Cookware, Smart & Final, Sofitel (hotels, owned by Accor), Sparkletts (water, owned by Danone), Spencer Gifts, Sundance Channel, Taylor Made (golf), Technicolor, T-Fal (kitchenware), Total gas stations, UbiSoft (computer games), Uniroyal, Universal Studios (music, movies and amusement parks; owned by Vivendi-Universal), USFilter, Veuve Clicquot Champagne, Vittel, VIVENDI-SEAGRAM, Wild Turkey (bourbon), Wine and Champagne labeled "Product of France", Woman's Day Magazine, Yoplait (The French company Sodiaal owns a 50 percent stake), Yves Saint Laurent, Yves Rocher, Zodiac Inflatable Boats
(0) comments

Krugman Truth Squad ....

... new on NRO.

Don Luskin counters the madness that is Krugmania.
(0) comments

The ICC Simply Must Go II

Here's a legal argument supporting the legality of Iraq liberation.

But the really terrifying thing is the possibility that an American President or British Prime Minister would have to consider this kind of thing seriously and personally before taking action to dislodge a lunatic like Saddam Hussein - a lunatic in this case supported by other lunatics who crawl from their academic cubbies all over the world to present themselves as "international legal experts."

UPDATE: Ari Fleisher gives some arguments.
(0) comments

Call In The Forensic Phrenologists!

The Washington Post:

A senior Bush administration official today questioned the authenticity of a videotape showing Saddam Hussein speaking a few hours after the cruise missile strikes that opened the war in Iraq.

More from the Post.


(0) comments

Read This Now

Jay Caruso links to a wonderful piece by Michael Barone in which Barone pretty much blows away all "The Bush-devil made them do it!" arguments.

Megan and Andrew should hand out copies of the Barone article to all those obnoxious Manhattan party-ites and require that they read it before speaking. From the few photos of Megan available in the Blogoshpere, she can make that stick.

Andrew is on his own.
(0) comments


In the old days, even office buildings looked like churches.

That's all over.

Now, even churches look like office buildings ... or suburban highschools! James Lileks has the hideous proof - and promises (or threatens) more to come!


And on the human side, a modern saga of faith, hops and charity!

(0) comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Krugmania v. The Real World, Again

Krugmania of December 27, 2002:

Then there are the dogs of war. Oil futures are already above $32 per barrel. Donald Rumsfeld assures us that we can fight two wars at once, but nobody seems to have thought about the state of oil markets if there is simultaneous turmoil in the Persian Gulf and Venezuela.

The Real World - March 19, 2003:

Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said on Thursday it would make up for any oil shortage from the attack on Iraq, using spare output capacity to ensure supply continuity.

MORE: Another dispatch from the real world.

(0) comments


William Safire is again making a fuss over his allegations that a French company (CIS) "brokered" rocket fuel sales by China to Iraq in violation of United Nations sanctions.

But even assuming that such sales by China to Iraq are prohibited by the sanctions, and even assuming that a French company "brokering" such transactions also violates those sanctions, I simply cannot believe that the pro-liberationist cause is advanced by this kind of technical "gotcha!" fussing.

China is said to have made the sale. China is said to have shipped the fuel.

Not France. Not a French company.

This is not the way to argue the case.

UPDATE: This is more like it. And this.
(0) comments


It's unlikely these "bugs" were actually planted by American intelligence. If they were American, they probably wouldn't have been found.

Instead, I suspect the French and Germans bugged each other's offices.
(0) comments


Oscar Wilde famously said that a cynic is someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

Today that's what we call a Democrat.

The rest of the country addresses the job at hand, while the Party of Narcissism [Thomas ("Shores of Tripoli") - Jefferson wept!] focuses ever more intently on how best to count the costs to itself and its prospects - and how best to manipulate the moment. Bring out the dancing Hollywood celebs!

But Senator Daschle and company should worry: the defense and security issue is not likely going away by 2004, or even 2008. After Iraq there's Korea, Iran, al Qaida, Palestine, and lots of others - maybe even China. And it just won't do to keep arguing that the President is just going to invade them all - he isn't. But the issues they raise and the threats they pose to the United States will preclude a return to the Clinton-Gore years of delusion, when the public would accept that such matters can be dealt with by phony "diplomatic solutions" (as in the case of Korea) or just by willfully ignoring them (as in the case of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center).

The economy will still matter a lot. But so will defense and security.

So keep speaking your mind, Senator Daschle. By the way, Senator, how much more of that kind of speaking do you think you can do before no one in South Dakota will speak to you? Has anyone bothered to take a poll to determine Senator Daschle's current standing there - the state he supposedly "represents?"
(0) comments

The ICC Simply Must Go

The world's "international legal experts" say that George Bush and Tony Blair (and, presumably a host of others complicitous in the liberation of Iraq - including all 30 countries supporting the effort) are probably war criminals - but its OK because they are war criminals who will get away with it:

Most experts in international law say they are not convinced either by the argument that military action against Iraq is authorized by earlier U.N. resolutions nor that the U.N. Charter allows self-defense against a perceived future threat. … Laetia Husson, a researcher at the International Law Center at the Sorbonne university in Paris, said international action to declare a breach of the U.N. Charter was unlikely. "There is little chance of condemnation by the United Nations because they will be paralyzed by the U.S. veto in the Security Council," she said. Washington and Baghdad do not recognize the International Criminal Court inaugurated last week and it has yet to define a crime of aggression. But it could still try Britain and other U.S. allies that recognize it on any war crimes charges.

The entire idiocy that is the International Criminal Court simply must be brought to a rapid, merciful end.

(0) comments

Same Old Song

From Fox News:

"The major anti-U.S. government demonstrations are organized by people who have been around for a long time, particularly the Workers World Party, which has existed for more than 30 years now and has always supported the enemies of the United States," said Herbert Romerstein, a retired agent of the U.S. Information Agency.

The Workers World Party describes itself as Marxist in nature.

(0) comments

The Shape Of Things To Come

Bill Clinton argues: "We need to be creating a world that we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block."

Like many things that Mr. Clinton says, that all sounds reasonable ... for a moment or two. Like all those State of the Union speeches he gave. The ones that seemed to vanish like a summer dream minutes after he stopped speaking. Yes, yes. Planning for the future. Planning for contingencies.

There's at least one big problem with Mr. Clinton's approach: It's probably practically impossible. Or, more specifically, creating a world that we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block almost certainly means creating a world in which we're not the biggest power on the block.

Whatever world we create must be created in the understanding that the United States is now the "biggest power on the block" - both economically and militarily. The recent fracas in the United Nations demonstrates the obvious: A set of international rules and organizations which assumes that the United States is not a double superpower requiring special consideration would be absurd and would also be unacceptable to both the United States and the rest of the world. But there is no way to construct such a set of international rules and organizations which now accommodates the fact that the United States is the only double superpower but automatically and reasonably shifts into some new mode when the United States ceased to be the only double superpower.

What would the trigger for the shift of mode be? For example, would the new rules come into play when China's gross domestic product exceeds that of the United States? But there are so many Chinese people. Doesn't that mean there should be some accommodation for per capita GDP? But even high GDP and per capita GDP don't mean a country has become the "biggest power on the block" in the sense Mr. Clinton apparently means this term. Consider Japan, for example - which clearly has international influence way short of its economic size. Does that mean the trigger should be activated at least when China's gross domestic product and Chinese military expenditures both exceed that of the United States? But what if China is still not a democracy at that point? Why would the world want to give special status to a country run by just a handful of undemocratic people? Can one imagine without lapsing into a cold sweat a world in which an engorged China, for example, held the international power and influence that the United States holds now?

When the United Nations was formed, the GDP of the United States was a much larger percentage of the aggregate global gross domestic product than it is now, and United Nations dues were set accordingly. But consider how difficult it has been to revise those United Nations dues obligations. Conversely, consider how difficult it has been for the United Nations to accommodate the growth of Japan and India - which preposterously don't even have permanent votes on the Security Council. But these accomodations are trivial and few compared to the vast set of accomodations that would have to be activated throughout the world if the United States ceased to be the biggest power on the block. And how about this: Can one imagine the Europeans easily - and without serious determination on the part of the United States - agreeing to a revised United Nations structure that frankly addresses the fact that they have allowed their militaries to become a bad joke? They may be myopic, but they're not that stupid.

Or consider many actual arrangements made by Mr. Clinton while he was in office that he probably thought helped create a world that we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block: the Kyoto Accord, the International Criminal Court, the biological weapons treaty, the now-terminated missile testing ban, and many others. Outside of the area of traditional international trade (such as NAFTA and the WTO), these arrangements would in each case have placed special burdens (and, in the case of the missile testing ban, did place such a burden) on the United States for the benefit of other participants. That is: such arrangements would have moved the United States closer to being something other than the biggest power on the block. That's why the current administration rightly rejected many of them.

Doesn't just posing the questions which need to be answered if Mr. Clinton's approach is taken seriously just expose his whole project for the ridiculous exercise in futility it is? Isn't he just ventilating yet another idea more at home in one of the all-night bull sessions in which he is most comfortable?

Perhaps. But I think it is more likely that Mr. Clinton is fully aware that the only way to create a world that we think (or at least Mr. Clinton and his buddies think) we would like to live in when we're not the biggest power on the block is to create a world in which we we're actually not the biggest power on the block. That may be to Mr. Clinton's liking and that of his European and liberal Democratic friends, but for this country and the world at large it would be a disaster.

The events of September 11 are just a hint of the shape of things to come if Mr. Clinton obtains his vision.

UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal has good related thoughts (subscription required for this editorial).

MORE: Andrew Sullivan has lots of good thoughts on this topic, and apparently so does Andrew's source, Bob Kagan.
(0) comments

Hypothetical Questions

George Bush, President of the United States, gave Saddam Hussein a final 48 hours to leave Iraq or face an invasion, an ultimatum Mr. Hussein promptly rejected. Jacques Chirac, President of France, has played what he sees as the role of a peace lover. So if Mr. Hussein had agreed to leave Iraq, instead of staying to fight, he could have safely and comfortably set up shop in Paris, right?

Well, apparently not. The International Criminal Court has just opened for business (the tribunal will come into force on July1). It appears that Mr. Hussein would be subject to prosecution by that Court if he "fled" to any country that had ratified its treaty. The Court's advocates appear to allow no means of granting immunity to a person otherwise subject to the Court's jurisdiction. Of course, the United States and Israel are not parties to that treaty - so in theory Mr. Hussein could have "fled" to one of those countries, even though Paris would have exposed him to prosecution.

But, as to the future, doesn't the International Criminal Court essentially force a dictator who is guilty of war crimes or prosecutable human rights violations to stay in power - rather than leave in exchange for a life of luxury?

Doesn't the Iraq ultimatum expose the International Criminal Court as a big obstruction to world peace and effective progress in human rights?

UPDATE: Bahrain has offered Saddam Hussein safe haven! But since Bahrain seems to be a signatory to the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court, how could Mr. Hussein feel safe in that country? Wouldn't Bahrain be obligated to turn him over to the ICC for prosecution?

(0) comments

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

The Yearning For Freedom Is Always A Striking Thing

The New York Times gawks all agog from Baghdad:

The striking thing was that for many Iraqis the first American strike could not come too soon. ... Many seemed ready to endure American air attacks and the armored thrusts that are expected to follow them if the outcome is a new Iraq that brings freedom from the long history of repression here. ,,,,

"Saddam, Saddam, we pledge our blood and soul to you!" the crowds shouted.

But in quieter moments today, other Iraqis were astonishingly frank in suggesting they were ready to endure war for liberty. One retired chemical engineer working as a taxi driver told a fare that he had listened to Mr. Bush. "People are waiting for America," he said, taking both hands off the wheel to simulate applause. This sudden candor has been a phenomenon starkly out of character with the neo-Stalinist atmosphere that has prevailed for so long in Iraq.

There is an odd sense of surprise, of astonishment, in this article. The "striking thing" is not just that for many Iraqis the first American strike could not come too soon. No, the striking thing is also that the Times finds that sentiment surprising or in any sense unexpected or unusual. The "striking thing" is also that the Times is reporting - as if it were a Times discovery - an absolutely predictable and universal human craving for freedom and relief from oppression by a madman, and that "People are waiting for America."

Perhaps the people at the Times should organize themselves a field trip to the Statue of Liberty. It's a few miles away, just south of the hole where the World Trade Center stood. They could do it on a warm summer day. It would be fun. The whole Times editorial board and reporting staff could all read first hand the little poem there, The New Colossus. Remember, the striking one, the one written by Emma Lazarus in 1883, the one that reads:

... With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

Maybe a little outing like that would help to clear their heads.
(0) comments

About Turkey

We know that Turkey's top political and military leaders called on the Turkish parliament to let in American troops to invade Iraq.

And while it was not as widely reported in the West, the Turkish Parliament held a closed evening session after the government's decision - and for a while the Turkish press was reporting that the government might bring the motion to Parliament during that session. But, reportedly, no vote was taken at that time or since. A new vote is supposed to be taken "as early as Wednesday" (tomorrow).

Now, I suppose that it would probably be hard to keep a Turkish parliament vote on a matter such as this secret. After all, there are many members of parliament very much opposed. But then, I don't know much about Turkish Parliament confidentiality procedures.

But if a majority could be found and secrecy maintained - at least for a few days - wouldn't it make sense to do that? Wouldn't it make sense to mass invasion forces in the north of Iraq (Turkey) and launch the first wave of the invasion from that point, while the Iraqis are expecting action from the south (Kuwait)?

But, again, it would be very hard to keep the secret - and also contrary to public news releases.


The Associated Press reports: Turkey's government said Wednesday it would ask parliament to grant the U.S. Air Force the right to use Turkish airspace in an Iraq war but would not immediately ask the legislature to vote to allow in U.S. troops.

(0) comments

Reality Shows

It looks like those so-called "reality shows" such as Joe Millionaire, Are You Hot? (I recommend the auditions), and, of course, Survivor: George W. Bush, just keep making ratings inroads.
(0) comments

British Parliament Vote

Despite all the media hoo-hah about Labor Party "rebellions," the Parliament vote backing the Iraq liberation seems not to have been all that close. For example, the BBC reported: Mr Blair is facing a major backbench rebellion over plans to take military action in Iraq. But the motion backing the Blair government's position was passed by 412 vote to 149, where 165 Labour MPs would have had to rebel before Mr Blair had to rely on Tory votes. The dissenters include Lib-Dems, whose party did not back the government. The BBC also reports that rebels ... said 139 backbenchers had opposed Mr Blair compared to 122 at the last vote - but that appears to be a reference to a separate rebel amendment opposing the government's stance (defeated 217 to 396 - with as many as 139 of those voting for the "amendment" being Labour backbenchers).

So, while it's not immediately clear from the phrasing of the media reports, Mr. Blair carried his own "rebellious" party quite nicely - especially if one considers that there is an irredeemable nut of "Old Labor" types within the Labor Party who "support" Mr. Blair generally only under the most extreme duress of their understanding that the alternative is Tory rule.
(0) comments

Everything You Know Is Wrong ...

... at least when it comes to Machu Picchu.

The spectacular site was not, as [has been widely] supposed, the traditional birthplace of the Inca people or the final stronghold of the Incas in their losing struggle against Spanish conquest in the 16th century. Nor was it a sacred spiritual center occupied by chosen women, the "virgins of the sun," and presided over by priests who worshiped the sun god.

Instead, Machu Picchu was one of many private estates of the emperor and, in particular, the favored country retreat for the royal family and Inca nobility. It was, archaeologists say, the Inca equivalent of Camp David, albeit on a much grander scale.

Boy, and I thought being brutally disabused about the significance of "antidisestablishmentarianism" was bad enough.
(0) comments

Doctor Weevil Gets Extra Credit

I'm referring to the opera marathon, of course.

But those PETA sacrificees sound pretty tasty, too.

However, following Tom Daschle, I'm saddened, saddened that our favorite bug doctor may be setting his sites too low by seeking out only five of the major meat groups at a Korean restaurant for International Eat An Animal For PETA Day. For, as one of his commenters points out, there are nine: Porifera (sponges), Cnidaria (jellyfish and sea anenomes), Platyhelminthes (flatworms), Nematoda (nematode worms), Annelida (segmented worms), Mollusca (well, molluscs), Arthropoda (includes crustaceans), Chordata (vertebrates) ... and lets not forget Echinodermata (starfish and sea urchins).

For all that, between performances, I think you would have to go for Chinese.

(0) comments

Sail Away... To Krugmania

Paul Krugman's current column comes with a pre-composed Randy Newman theme song:

And everyone that you know was in my dream
I saw a vampire
I saw a ghost

Everybody scared me but you sacred me the most!

Herr Doktorprofessor says:

What frightens me is the aftermath — and I'm not just talking about the problems of postwar occupation. I'm worried about what will happen beyond Iraq — in the world at large, and here at home. .... What scares me most, however, is the home front. Look at how this war happened.

What follows is an admission that "there is a[n unmade] case for getting tough with Iraq", an unsupported assertion that the Administration used "flawed or faked evidence" about the Iraq nuclear program, and a flat denial of any Iraq link to al Qaeda (it seems unnamed "people inside the intelligence services" regard such links as "nonsense").

Herr Doktorprofessor's is terrified that such alleged embarrassments "went almost unreported by our domestic news media." - although they have been given widespread media coverage. Is he disabling his search engines again? He concludes that "most Americans have no idea why the rest of the world doesn't trust the Bush administration's motives." Finally, he signals in advance that he is going to be mighty peeved if other Americans act on their First Amendment rights if that means: "once the shooting starts, the already loud chorus that denounces any criticism as unpatriotic will become deafening."

That's it. That's his entire description of "how this war happened." No Resolution 1441. No mention of the United Nations at all, including any of the 17 Security Council resolutions. That Japan, Australia and most European governments support the United States is omitted, especially Britain's stalwart support. No mention of the inspector hide-and-seek or the damning evidence of deliberate concealment presented by Colin Powell. Not a word of the large quantities of previously discovered-but-undestroyed anthrax and nerve agents. Nothing of Iraq's prior use of such agents against Iran. Torture and human rights violations are clearly not relevant, nor any want of democracy. No discussion of the Administration's rebuttal of assertions that its evidence of nuclear programs is "flawed." Mr. Chirac's transparently disingenuous manipulations of United Nations procedures and outright defiance of NATO treaty co-defense terms in regards of innocent Turkey is ignored. No mention that one does not have to believe that Iraq and al Qaeda have been close buddies to note the al Qaeda operatives wintering in Baghdad. That the Administration has presented Iraq's cooperation with al Qaeda as likely, but supported by less conclusive evidence than the WMD charges that justify the war, warrants not a syllable. No mention that the supposedly uncooperating al Qaeda is known to be using the Iraq invasion as a recruiting tool. He willfully ignores that the entire case has been made to the public and the United Nations by both the American and British governments.

He also counsels that to determine "how this war happened" we must for some reason "bear in mind that an exasperated Clinton administration considered a bombing campaign in 1998." Interestingly, a new book asserts that Mr. Clinton was too distracted by a golf game to answer urgent calls from his national security adviser, Sandy Berger, who was desperately trying to get the commander in chief to OK critical military action against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Yes, the Clinton administration was certainly big on exasperation. But Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman gives them a run for their money.

From his cornucopia of unsupported claims, unconscionable omissions and characteristically bizarre non sequitures, Herr Doktorprofessor presents his heart of darkness:

So now the administration knows that it can make unsubstantiated claims, without paying a price when those claims prove false.

If Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman had not blown all of the irony circuits in the Times computers long ago, they would surely have burned to the nub as these words passed through.

But the most striking aspect of the Krugmania de jour is its complete omission of any pretense to economic or game theoretic considerations. There's a whole list of examples of things that show that Bush Administration is not allowing the United States to "play by the rules" - although the United States didn't break any rules in connection with the acts on this list:

Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court — all in just two years.

Whatever the merits of these listed choices, each of the items on this list comes with its own serious economic and game theoretic aspects - none of which is even acknowledged by Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman. Each choice in the list involves not breaking rules but a refusal to be bound by a particular set of rules desired by other people. The United States is now the world's only economic and military superpower, which at a minimum means that every other country (and the rest of the world collectively) has an economic and political incentive to scribe rules that work to the disadvantage of the United States relative to those countries. For example, it's not surprising that France sees the United Nations in a different light than the United States does because France would like to use the United Nations to hitch a free ride on American defense expenditures. That's not always nasty: People in all walks of life would rather ride. Further, many of the world's existing international organizations and rules were created when the existence of the evil and destructive Soviet Union was of paramount consideration. Those organizations and rules must now change - they should have changed long ago. Why should a nearly bankrupt and democratic Russia be treated as if it were still the Soviet Union in the area of missile defense?

In the aftermath of the Iraq liberation, the unique position of the United States - and the incentives it creates for other nations to game against it through international organizations and international law - will be a defining consideration, especially as those organizations and rules go through their needed overhauls. As a rule an economist is supposed to understand such incentives and considerations and tell us about them. Herr Doktorprofessor Krugman says he is writing about the aftermath of the Iraq war, but he materially breaches this rule.

It is positively weird that the United States' opposition to the International Criminal Court appears on this list. We have just heard Russian President Vladimir Putin saying a military assault "without U.N. authorization" would be "illegal and harmful," even where Resolution 1441 already grants that "authorization." And U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says that the war's "legitimacy will be questioned" because yet another Security Council resolution cannot be squeezed from the likes of Angola, Cameroon, Pakistan, Syria and France. Having just witnessed such gross manipulation of the United Nations apparatus by France and like-minded countries and the United Nations itself, one can only shudder at the prospect of the International Criminal Court being used to threaten an American President with the prospect of being declared and punished as a war criminal.

Indeed, if there is one lesson this entire Iraq situation has taught us, it should be that the International Criminal Court should not be suffered to exist in anything like its current form.

Not that Paul Krugman would have a clue about any of that. He’s too busy hiding in his bomb shelter, trembling at the thought that he might be subjected to a “loud chorus” of disapproval by his fellow Americans.

MORE: From Hoy and Hogberg.

STILL MORE: Don Luskin reminds us that the Clinton administration dropped 400 cruise missiles, more than the entire Gulf War I, in 4 days without any United Nations Security Council clearance. And Tom Maguire points out: After the 4 days, Clinton declared the operation to be a success.

UPDATE: As if with the express purpose of showing just how out of it Herr Doktorprofessor has become, the Los Angeles Times runs a front-page article on how the Bush Administration's belief that all those post-WWII international rules and organizations need to be overhauled with the passing of the Soviet Union is a now major, active factor in the Iraq strategy. The Times article does not report any express understanding of how the unique position of the United States makes rule-formation tricky. That's for clever economists, game theorists and diplomatic and legal strategists to figure out - apparently those a lot cleverer than Herr Doktorprofessor. I wonder if Frank Easterbrook could take a leave of absence from the Seventh Circuit to help out on all this - the way Justice Jackson took time off for the Nuremberg trials? Judge Easterbrook could really do something with this material.

(0) comments

Monday, March 17, 2003

Lean Out The Window

Would you like to celebrate Saint Patrick's day by listening to James Joyce read one of his own poems?


by: James Joyce (1882-1941)

LEAN out of the window,
I heard you singing
A merry air.

My book was closed;
I read no more,
Watching the fire dance
On the floor.

I have left my book,
I have left my room,
For I heard you singing
Through the gloom.

Singing and singing
A merry air,
Lean out of the window,
(0) comments

Yes, Ms. Reno, You Were Saying

Janet Reno now:

''We will not solve the world's problems by might.''

Janet Reno, Holy (Easter) Saturday, April 22, 2000:

"Unfortunately, the Miami relatives rejected our efforts -- leaving us no other option but the enforcement action. ... Every step of the way the Miami relatives kept moving the goal posts and raising more hurdles. ... After negotiating through the night, I informed the parties that time had run out. At that moment, I gave the go-ahead for the operation. ... Law enforcement personnel on the scene ... enter[ed] the Gonzalez home."

Janet Reno, August 1, 1995, Tuesday morning:

"Three days after the Waco standoff began, David Koresh promised the FBI that he and his followers would surrender immediately after a tape he had made was broadcast on the radio. .... He broke his word. He did not surrender. .... On March 19 and 20, Koresh said he would come out soon. He did not. In early April, he said he would come out after Passover. He did not. On April the 14th, he let his lawyers believe he needed only a few days to complete his manuscript on the seven seals, and he would then surrender. The FBI showed Koresh's April 14 letter to an expert at Syracuse University, who concluded it was another ploy, another delaying tactic. But the FBI kept negotiating. ... Even though Koresh broke every promise he made and even though he never gave the FBI any reason to believe he would surrender peacefully, the FBI kept negotiating, kept trying every way they knew how to talk Koresh into leaving, but he never gave them a specific date. ... Day after day, FBI negotiators tried to arrange a surrender. ... Clearly, a dangerous situation was becoming more dangerous... The April 19 operation began to clear announcements of our intentions, repeated time and time again, aimed at giving the Branch Davidians opportunities to leave safely. The Davidians responded with heavy gunfire from the tower and other parts of the compound. Yes, we had hoped the Davidians might not react violently if we used gas in a slow, incremental manner, but those hopes were dashed by the Davidians and their guns. Our response was measured. We inserted gas, then waited, then inserted more gas. We were very careful never to insert more gas than a fraction of the safe limit. Six hours went by, six hours, and still no one came out. The rest you know. ... We will never know whether there was a better solution."

(0) comments

Say What?

Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle said Monday that President Bush failed "miserably" at diplomacy, forcing the United States to go to war with Iraq.

And Senator Daschle is going to say what, exactly, when he's asked to reveal the magic words that would have made Iraq disarm? Or the French agree to an invasion?

(0) comments

Perfidious Albion

Arriving today by e-mail:

The only seat available on the train was directly adjacent to a well dressed middle aged French woman and the seat was being used by her dog. The weary traveler asked, "Ma'am, please move your dog. I need that seat." The French woman looked down her nose at the American, sniffed and said,” Your Americans. You are such a rude class of people. Can't you see my little FiFi is using that seat?"

The American walked away, determined to find a place to rest, but after another trip down to the end of the train, found himself again facing the woman with the dog. Again he asked, "Please, lady. May I sit there? I'm very tired." The French woman wrinkled her nose and snorted," You Americans! Not only are you rude, you are also arrogant ... Imagine!"

The American didn't say anything else. He leaned over, picked up the dog, tossed it out the window of the train and sat down in the empty seat. The woman shrieked and railed, and demanded that someone defend her honor and chastise the American.

An English man sitting across the aisle spoke up indignantly,” You know sir, you Americans do seem to have a penchant for doing the wrong thing. You eat holding the fork in the wrong hand. You drive your autos on the wrong side of the road. And now sir, you've thrown the wrong bitch out the window."

WARNING: Sentiment toxic in large doses.
(0) comments

The Traders Speak?

Equities markets rallied today around the world. Many quite respectable media are attributing the rallies to expectations of a "short war" with Iraq following the ultimatums and decisions of the Azores conference.

Markets are generally supposed to respond to new information. But nothing in the Azores developments or other news says anything new about the coming war being long or short. The Azores developments crystallize the markets' expectations that there will be war, and very soon. It is on that news that world equities markets rose.

And it is even stranger for the Financial Times to assert: Wall Street erased its early morning losses on Monday as investors hoped for a swift end to the US-led war on Iraq. Few traders or investors bid up equities prices because they "hope" for anything - and, in any event, the "hope" that a war will be short is not new and not supported by any new data.

That's not the same as saying that equities markets want war. What equities markets "want" marginally is certainty. They got it. They are more convinced.

UPDATE: TrendMacro Live has more. [But password required.]

POSTSCRIPT: Perhaps this belabors the point, but nothing in the above post denies that current market positions assume and depend on the expectation that the war will be short. The point is that markets have incorporated that assumption for quite some time - and it didn't change in the last few days. If something signals that the war may be long, that would be major new information, probably triggering a downturn in equities. All that being said, the equities markets did not rally on information or expectations that the war will be short - although current equities prices do and for a long time have reflected an expectation that any war would be short, just as they reflect certain expectations as to the future price of oil or the Fed's decisions as to interest rates or any number of other variables.

That markets will decline in the future if contrary information is received is not the same things as stock prices increasing because of information long included the market.
(0) comments

Lynne Kiesling's Seen The Future ...

... and it's very clean and handy and well fueled!
(0) comments

Saint Patrick's Day Shenanigans

The Man Without Qualities is so pleased that Senator Kerry and his consultants have elected to exploit one of my suggestions: Claim the 1986 statement [falsely asserting the Senator's Irish heritage] was conceived on Saint Patrick's Day - when everyone is Irish or thinks they are. Polish up the details.

And, like the pros they are, they did polish it up and make the idea their own - just as I implored!

This might have been one of those priceless "life imitates the Onion" experiences, except that the heavy and obvious hand of Senator Kerry's remorseless spin control makes the whole calculated performance a distinctly Clintonian Moment. One can almost hear the Senator's designated handler muttering to himself as he pens the jokes and "parody" song the Senator sings: "We can't get rid of the ethnic fraud, but so what? He's not running in some green beer state this time. Lets tell people that it's no big deal - we'll have him make fun of it! We've already burlesqued the Jews with the 'my new-found heritage is an inner light' bit in Miami. The Irish-Americans will be a piece of cake."

A genius! Give the boy a raise!

(0) comments

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Risky Business

Even as France and its "allies" are pushing for more time for the inspectors in Iraq, the New York Times and Reuters are reporting:

As hopes for a peaceful solution dimmed, U.N. arms inspectors were even forced to pull out five of their eight helicopters from Iraq on Sunday after insurers cancelled cover because of war risks.

So it comes to this: Neither France nor Germany nor any other "peace loving" country is willing to provide a government indemnity as a substitute for the United Nations insurance policy needed to keep the inspectors' aircraft in Iraq. But, Mr. Chirac keeps explaining that it's so, so, so important to keep the inspections going. Almost every aircraft lease and security instrument in existence assumes that if the aircraft is placed in a dangerous military situation causing the insurance to be withdrawn some solvent state will step up to the plate.

But not France or Germany or any other such high minded nation. They apparently don't want to take any risk of having to pay for a helicopter needed by inspectors whose work, we are repeatedly told, is essential to continued world peace!

And we can all see just how principled the French position has been now that Mr. Chirac is willing to cash it in in exchange for just 30 more days of meaningless French-face-saving inspection time - rendered all the more meaningless by the depletion of 5 out of the 8 helicopters used by the inspectors. Can Mr. Chirac really be so stupid as to think that this last minute offer will salvage French standing with Britain and the United States? Can he really think that France will be welcomed back like a naughty child?

French voters have a low opinion of stupid politicians, much more so than in most other countries. It is in Britain and the United States, not France, that the phrase "he's too clever by half" has wide currency. In France, a politician having evident "intelligence" (often confused with nastiness) is generally seen by a voter as being at least as important as the politician having views or positions with which the voter agrees - especially in matters of international affairs. When the dust settles, the French voters are going to see Mr. Chirac as having played this very, very stupidly and not having obtained what he (and they) apparently wanted. It is therefore likely that his political standing will collapse - notwithstanding those French polls showing widespread voter agreement with his position.

Who can wait?

MORE: From the Wall Street Journal

(0) comments