Sunday, May 27, 2007

Withdraw from Iraq? Don't hold your breath...

The US government is under pressure from a wide range of interests, both foreign & domestic, to withdraw military forces from Iraq. This is unlikely to happen - here's why:

The USA, with close ally Israel behind & urging them forward, needs the military bases now commandeered/occupied/rented in Iraq. Most US resources have now been withdrawn from Saudi Arabia, esp. Prince Sultan Air Base. (This gave a key victory to Osama Bin Laden -- as forcing US withdrawal from Saudi Arabia was a central focus for 9/11 terrorism, where 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian).

The new US embassy compound in Iraq will be the world's largest embassy by far. On 104 acres (42 hectare) in the heart of Baghdad, the riverside site would fit three Pentagon buildings (that building is 29 acres plus a 5 acre central plaza) - and the Pentagon is one damn big building; the US Capitol building footprint is just four acres. How many visas they plan to issue?

US claims for staying in Iraq to install democracy seem poppycock. The duly-elected lawmakers of Iraq themselves asked for a US withdrawal timetable (8 May 2007), and have been thus far ignored. As with Guantanamo and many other US bases around the world, "y'all Irakis'd best prepare 4 permanent Aw-Q-Pay-Shun."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Haiku by Genki

One skinny lawyer
Truth Quest leveraged: Gandhi
Lead by example
-- 2007-05-27 Seoul

Outside traffic sounds
4 AM; slumber beckons
Enough Now for now
-- 2007-05-27 Seoul

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Colin Powell: A Murderous Duck

Colin Powell is no longer the U.S. Secretary of State. Where is he? As Powell's deception and the multiple lies of Bush White House unravel, Powell is playing duck-and-cover. Doing a bit of charity work, trying to hunker down and wait until the day seems right for rehabilitation.

Forget it Colin. You are worse than bankrupt. You were trusted as a voice of reason and balance. Now thousands of Americans & tens of thousands of Iraqis are dead, the killing continues, and it is largely due to you. Your complicit absence with empty near quotes -- "according to statements from an associate" or "a former colleague of Powell explains" -- only compound your crimes. Months pass, taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of billions are poured into Iraq (and denied to US domestic needs), yet from you we hear only very quiet whimpers of "i didn't know..."

Yet you told the United Nations, and the entire world, "WE KNOW..." 32 times. It was baloney. You spoke also of obligations; now you duck all codes of honor.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Wolf at the door

The saga of Paul Wolfowitz at the World Bank continues. Yes there has been misunderstanding, but the underlying problem is politicization. Some of this was generated by Wolfowitz, some of it from the favoritism allowed to the US government and its stranglehold insistence on deciding who can be the World Bank President.

Many definitive statements can be seen at:

Quoting from the above report (by Bank Information Center, a 'watchdog' organization), perhaps the statements by former World Bank General Counsel Roberto Dañino are most condemnatory:
  • Dañino: "PW [Wolfowitz] acted incorrectly, not only providing the additional benefits discussed...above, but also by trying to blame the Board, the EC, the General Counsel and the VPHR (Vice President of Human Resources) when these actions became public. It is only after the inaccurate assertions of PW or his spokespersons were denied by the affected parties and when PW's express instructions in writing became public, that PW admitted he had made a mistake.
  • Dañino: "In my opinion, the matter presents not merely questions of legal compliance but also - and more importantly - questions about the moral authority of the Bank's President and the confidence he commands from the Bank's own staff and around the world. I believe that PW made serious substantive errors by providing unauthorized benefits to a person with whom he had a relationship that created a conflict of interest...He then failed to disclose these actions and later blamed them on others, apparently trying to deceive the board, the staff and the general public. He or his spokespersons falsely suggested that his actions had been approved by the Board, the EC, the GC and/or the VPHR. Later statements have charged his accusers with political motivations. In my judgment, these actions and statements have badly hurt the morale of the staff, damaged the reputation of the Bank, and eroded his moral authority to lead the Bank."

Maybe there was misunderstanding and miscommunication. But there also seems a try to steamroller underlings and summarily to stifle criticism.

At least Wolfowitz has done the world a service by highlighting the anti-democratic dimensions of how the World Bank President is appointed.