Mar. 25th, 2003

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By Dana "haven't you ever put yourself on the line for a new hire that didn't work out?" Milbank
Tuesday, March 25, 2003; Page A07

There must have been shock in Baghdad and awe in Paris last week when the White House announced the news that Palau had joined the "coalition of the willing."

Palau, an island group of nearly 20,000 souls in the North Pacific, has much to contribute. It has some of the world's best scuba diving, delectable coconuts and tapioca. One thing Palau cannot contribute, however, is military support: It does not have a military.

"It's rather symbolic," said Hersey Kyota, Palau's ambassador to Washington, of his country's willingness to be listed in the 46-member coalition of the willing engaged in the Iraq war. Kyota said the president of Palau, which depends on the U.S. military for its security, on a visit to Washington, "thought it was a good idea to write a letter of support, so he did." Kyota said Palau gamely offered its harbors and airports to the effort, but the offer was graciously declined, as Palau is nowhere near Iraq.

Palau is one of six unarmed nations in the coalition, along with Costa Rica, Iceland, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Solomon Islands. Then there's Afghanistan.

Asked if Iceland would be supplying troops, ambassador Helgi Agustsson gave a hearty Scandinavian guffaw. "Of course not -- we have no military," he said. "That is a good one, yes." In fact, Agustsson added, "we laid down weapons sometime in the 14th century," when the Icelandic military consisted largely of Vikings in pointy helmets. The true nature of Iceland's role in the coalition of the willing is "reconstruction and humanitarian assistance," Agustsson said, adding that this has not been requested yet.

Therein lies the peculiarity of the coalition of the willing. Some on the White House list, such as Turkey, have been critical of the war and uncooperative. Many of those on the list, such as the unarmed nations above, will do far less than countries such as Germany, which adamantly opposed the war but is defending Turkey from Iraqi missiles. To join the coalition of the willing, a nation need do nothing more than offer "political support" -- essentially, allow its name to be put on the list.

Administration officials have furnished the list to demonstrate, as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld argued, that the current coalition "is larger than the coalition that existed during the Gulf War in 1991." But that 34-member group was an actual military coalition, with all members providing troops, aircraft, ships or medics.

By that standard, there are only about a half dozen members of the coalition in the current war...
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By Dana "it's never to late to start scrutinizing a candidate" Milbank
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2003; Page A01

The White House last night outlined a war spending plan that envisions a protracted conflict and military occupation in Iraq, as the American public showed signs that it, too, was bracing for an extended and bloody fight.

The Bush administration said it plans to ask Congress to spend $74.7 billion over the next six months on Iraq and related foreign aid and anti-terrorism matters. The proposal includes $63 billion to prosecute the war -- enough to keep the full force of U.S. troops in Iraq for nearly five months -- $8 billion for international aid and relief, and $4 billion for homeland security. A senior administration official, briefing reporters, said the request is based on a conclusion in recent days that the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will not fold quickly.

After Sunday's setbacks in Iraq and President Bush's warnings that progress could be more difficult than anticipated, Americans have begun to revise their expectations. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 54 percent of the country believes the United States and its allies will sustain "significant" casualties in the war, up from 37 percent on Thursday. Nearly half -- 45 percent -- expect the war to last months rather than days or weeks, up from 37 percent on Thursday.
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Hundreds of activists opposed to the war in Iraq, including leaders of Egypt's opposition political parties, have been jailed, and several have been tortured by electric shock, according to a report issued today by Human Rights Watch.

The report, which declares that "fundamental freedoms in Egypt are now under serious threat," follows an outpouring of demonstrators in front of the U.S. Embassy and in downtown Cairo last week during the first days of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

During the protests, police beat demonstrators with batons and sticks and fired water cannons at the crowd. As the protests ended, students, journalists and four opposition members of parliament -- Mohammed Farid Hassanein, Hamdeen Sabahi, Abdel Azim al-Maghrabi and Haidar Baghdadi -- were beaten by police, according to the report by the New York-based organization. Sabahi remains hospitalized.

On Saturday, Marwa Farouq, Shaymaa Samir and Nourhan Thabet -- three female students who have been prominent antiwar activists -- were arrested while attempting to enter Cairo University to attend a demonstration. Thabet, who is pregnant, was reportedly beaten, bound and blindfolded. Her whereabouts are unknown and there are fears that she has no access to medical care, the report said.Hundreds of activists opposed to the war in Iraq, including leaders of Egypt's opposition political parties, have been jailed, and several have been tortured by electric shock, according to a report issued today by Human Rights Watch.

The report, which declares that "fundamental freedoms in Egypt are now under serious threat," follows an outpouring of demonstrators in front of the U.S. Embassy and in downtown Cairo last week during the first days of the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

During the protests, police beat demonstrators with batons and sticks and fired water cannons at the crowd. As the protests ended, students, journalists and four opposition members of parliament -- Mohammed Farid Hassanein, Hamdeen Sabahi, Abdel Azim al-Maghrabi and Haidar Baghdadi -- were beaten by police, according to the report by the New York-based organization. Sabahi remains hospitalized.

On Saturday, Marwa Farouq, Shaymaa Samir and Nourhan Thabet -- three female students who have been prominent antiwar activists -- were arrested while attempting to enter Cairo University to attend a demonstration. Thabet, who is pregnant, was reportedly beaten, bound and blindfolded. Her whereabouts are unknown and there are fears that she has no access to medical care, the report said.
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As American forces began skirmishing with Iraq's Republican Guard troops on the drive toward Baghdad yesterday, Iraq's best soldiers seemed in no mood to lay down their arms. Army Apache helicopters attacked and destroyed up to 15 armored vehicles of a Republican Guard division in central Iraq but were driven back by a ferocious hail of small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Virtually all the Apaches were hit, and one went down. It was the latest evidence that some of the initial hopes - even assumptions - that Iraqi resistance would quickly crumble seemed not to be panning out.

The American and British military are prepared to fight a war against a resistant enemy, and they insisted yesterday that everything was on or ahead of schedule. But the public had reason to expect something different. The Bush administration had conveyed the impression that the Iraqi government was shaky, that much of the army was not likely to fight and that the Iraqi people would welcome the invasion force with cheers and flowers...

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The American public transfixed by the unfolding invasion of Iraq may someday look up and discover too late what the Republican Congress did while the world's attention was elsewhere. Led by the Bush administration, the House and Senate are about to march under the public's radar screen and lead the country into a decade of budgetary disaster.

The country is facing plenty of financial problems: the economy, the cost of the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq. Stunningly, Congress is preparing to make things far, far worse with more than $500 billion in tax cuts for the upper 1 percent of taxpayers. To finance these spoils for the wealthiest Americans, House leaders - who have taken the lead in hammering a budget together - plan deep cuts of $475 billion in vital programs for the bottom 99 percent. These direct hits will range from Medicaid to child care, education to food stamps, environmental protection to emergency doles for the poor.

This plan, in the form of a budget resolution tied to a firm tax-cut mandate, is moving forward on Capitol Hill even as lawmakers' boilerplate speeches resound with calls for shared wartime sacrifice by all Americans. How an average $90,000 tax cut for each millionaire counts as sacrifice is only one of many unexplained mysteries as Republican leaders fiercely protect President Bush's second wave of tax cuts. The gallant troops in Iraq who are being invoked daily in speeches by members of Congress might be interested to know that the array of cuts includes an estimated $14 billion reduction in military veterans' programs...
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The United States is preparing to establish immediate sole control of postwar Iraq, initially without recourse to the United Nations, with a civilian administration under the direct command of the military, according to senior administration officials.

Even before American troops reach Baghdad, administration officials are assembling a team of civilian officials, largely retired American diplomats, to run Iraq as soon as the fighting is over.

The administration has decided that helping the country and its people recover after the war will require a civilian corps in place working with the military as it tries to establish security throughout the country.

European and Asian diplomats, while offering to help rebuild Iraq, raised questions last week about American plans to administer postwar Iraq without a central role for the United Nations...

Bypassing the United Nations and setting up an American civilian peacekeeping administration under the military, however temporary, is a huge break from recent tradition and a denial of one of the United Nations' central roles since the end of the cold war.

But the United States may have no choice for the moment. Under international law, the United Nations may be unable to work under a military occupation force. While the United Nations can offer emergency relief for refugees, children, food distribution and humanitarian coordination, international officials say that the Geneva Convention would forbid long-term cooperation without approval from the Security Council.

"On the humanitarian side, we want to save lives no matter what," said Mark Malloch Brown, director of the United Nations Development Program. "When it comes to reconstruction, that's crossing a different Rubicon. We can't be authorized by a subcontract of the U.S. government. We have to be authorized by the Security Council."

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said on Thursday that he was consulting with the United Nations to try to resolve some of these questions and devise a way to "put in place broad Security Council authority to help the people of Iraq."



and just in case it isn't perfectly clear yet how the administration feels about this,


The goal, according to an administration official, is to avoid a "bloated, inefficient civilian U.N. peacekeeping force," yet still encourage United Nations participation in postwar Iraq under the American administration...

Mr. Garner's team is organized along the lines of a slimmed-down United Nations peacekeeping operation, with Mr. Garner taking the role normally played by powerful United Nations administrators, like Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations special representative in Afghanistan.

His team includes three regional coordinators and coordinators for reconstruction, civil administration and humanitarian assistance. They will oversee everything from emergency relief and refugees to long-term planning for roads, rail and waterways as well as economic development and weeding out senior officials of the ruling Baath Party of Saddam Hussein.

A group of Iraqi expatriates will serve on an advisory council, according to the Pentagon.

The administration has sought retired diplomats with a history in the area.

Barbara Bodine, who was ambassador to Yemen in 2000 when the destroyer Cole was attacked, will serve in central Iraq.


emphasis mine.

Not only are we going to show the rest of the arab world the edifying spectacle of the US bleeding off Iraqi assets to pay for our attack on their country without any support from the rest of the world, we're putting in Barbara Bodine.

You may remember Barbara Bodine. She's the Ambassador to Yemen who single-handedly stopped the investigation into al Qaeda's (and bin Laden's) role in the attack on the Cole, going so far as to pull strings to have the ranking anti-terrorism expert in the region pulled out for persisting in his investigation after she told him it was undiplomatic. The Yemenis shut down their cooperation after that.

He later died in the World Trade Center.

Yes, you've got it - the Bush administration is putting the woman with arguably the highest personal responsibility for the death of 3,000 americans at the hands of terrorists of any U.S. official, through stupidity and an overpowering need to emphasize that no-one was the boss of her, in place in post-"liberation" Iraq.

Ms. Bodine's story, as it appeared in the Washington Post, Frontline, Reason, Matt Yglesias,Unknown News, Letter from Gotham, TalkBack Oregon, the Navy/Marine Corps MARS (sponsored by the Defense Department), the Sunday Times and ABC News.


Some thoughts from Ms. Bodine, god help us.

Matthew Yglesias quotes Skimble (< - sidebar) as pointing out that the only connection between Saddam and bin Laden is Barbara Bodine.

Why does George Bush hate America?
sisyphusshrugged: (Claude Rains Memorial Gambling Awareness)


Our first martial Claude was nominated by Tim Noah's Kurd Sellout Watch, via the lovely and talented Ethel the Blog (yes, I know he's a guy, I've just anthropomorphized his blog).

The Claude Rains Memorial Gambling Awareness Award, special wartime edition, goes to the Wall Street Journal editorial page. Responding to public discomfort about the administration effectively handing the Kurds, whose freedom we're ostensibly fighting for, over to Turkey to be slaughtered, the Journal is apparently shocked to discover that the Kurds, in fact, suck, and don't deserve freedom. And sure the Wall Street Journal is an honorable paper.

I speak not to disprove what the Journal spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love the Kurds once, not without cause.
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason! Bear with me.
My heart is in the coffin there with the Kurds,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

I await guidance on whether they deserve to be gassed some more.

ooooh.

Mar. 25th, 2003 10:30 am
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Eric at Antidotal (full disclosure: we Did Lunch) called the right wing think tank industry "neocon agar"

I just want to say that a few times.

neocon agar neocon agar neocon agar.

edit: also, heh.
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by unanimous vote of bloggers assembled, (drumroll)

the iron man of southwest blogtopia (y! sctp!) Sean-Paul at the Agonist, for his exhaust(ive)(ing) efforts at keeping track of this war for those of us who can't.

(Personally, I think a serious attagirl ought to go to Tatiana, who is a spectacularly understanding newlywed person and a bloggeuse in her own right).

edit: Electrolite has links to Sean-Paul's mirror sites, which he (um, they) request you to use to lighten the server load on Sean-Paul)
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MB at Wampum has the latest attempt to protect companies that willfully or neglectfully injure children from responsibility by the eminent Dr. Frist.

Keep in mind: if this goes through, those children will be competing with every other interest group in America for funding.

With this group in power, how do you think they'll do?

oh, dear.

Mar. 25th, 2003 04:22 pm
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edit: feh.
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[livejournal.com profile] gopherbomb has an interesting idea here. Take a look.
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