It's been a while but the roundup should be ok. I'm tired and I'm not sure why now...just assumed it was lack of food plus the drinking in the previous few days, but today I'm still sleepy even when I just wake up. Even took a big nap in the afternoon and still woke up tired (though not as much). Weird, huh? So, please excuse any fogginess in though, it probably won't be 100%. j/k (well, mostly)
Anyways, the roundup will follow in a similar fashion to previous ones. If your not sure what that is, see any other post (except in the Myspace blog...look down past the previous two in that case). This will be organized in the following way (in order)- Bush's Failed Foreign Policy- Beware a Rudy Giuliani Presidency
- Turkey's Threatened Invasion of Northern Iraq
- Threats of Torture and Government Censorship
------Bush's Failed Foreign Policy
There is one piece, written by noted Middle East scholar and expert Juan Cole that I believe everyone should read. It is the perfect preamble, it is the perfect piece to read in order to give everyone here the proper context in which to read all the other links that follow this, especially the Rudy Guiliani stuff. This is a must read and it's only two pages long...seriously go read it now!! Well, OK the link is below.
Juan Cole -- The Collapse of Bush's Foreign Policy
-- Now read it all. But here are some interesting parts:
The Bush administration once imagined that its presence in Afghanistan and Iraq would be anchored by friendly neighbors, Turkey to the west and Pakistan to the east. Last week, as the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan continued to deteriorate, the anchors themselves also came loose.
On Sunday, just days after the Turkish Parliament authorized an invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish guerrillas ambushed and killed 17 Turkish soldiers inside Turkey. In Karachi, Pakistan, a massive bomb nearly killed U.S.-backed Benazir Bhutto, who was supposed to help stabilize the country. The Bush administration's entire Middle East policy is coming undone -- if it even has a policy left, other than just sticking its fingers in the multiple, and multiplying, holes in the dike. (snip)...
Cole's conclusion puts it all together nicely. Explaining the complete failure and crumpling of Bush's foreign policy:
Along with the failed state in Iraq, which has neglected to use any decrease in violence temporarily provided by the recent U.S. troop escalation to effect political reconciliation, the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan raises the specter of a collapse of both of Bush's major state-building projects. The turmoil in Turkey and Pakistan damages U.S. relations with two allies that are key to shoring up the countries under American occupation.
After Sept. 11, when the Bush administration launched its global "war on terror," the United States enjoyed some clear assets in fighting the al-Qaida terrorist network. In the Middle East, the United States had the support of secular Turkey, a NATO member. The long relationship of the powerful Pakistani military with that of the United States enabled Bush to turn the military dictator Musharraf against the Taliban, which Pakistan had earlier sponsored. Shiite Iran announced that it would provide help to the United States in its war on the hyper-Sunni Taliban regime. Baathist Syria and Iraq, secular Arab nationalist regimes, were potential bulwarks against Sunni radicalism in the Levant.
Like a drunken millionaire gambling away a fortune at a Las Vegas casino, the Bush administration squandered all the assets it began with by invading Iraq and unleashing chaos in the Gulf. The secular Baath Party in Iraq was replaced by Shiite fundamentalists, Sunni Salafi fundamentalists and Kurdish separatists. The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet. Iraqi Kurdistan's willingness to give safe haven to the PKK alienated Turkey from both the new Iraqi government and its American patrons. Search-and-destroy missions in Afghanistan have predictably turned increasing numbers of Pushtun villagers against the United States, NATO and Karzai. The thunder of the bomb in Karachi and the Turkish shells in Iraqi Kurdistan may well be the sound of Bush losing his "war on terror."
I have nothing to add to this brilliant piece by Professor Cole.
I mentioned that the above piece is important in that it helps properly view all of the links that follow, and I mean it.
Beware a Rudy Guiliani Presidency
Why is the collapse and utter failure of Bush foreign policy so important to note when it comes to Republican presidential candidate Rudy Guiliani? Quite simply, it is because when it comes to matters of foreign policy and terrorism policy Guiliani is nearly identical or worse than President Bush on the very same issues.
I've had a video on my profile of Giuliani taking on neoconservative foreign policy advisors (some too crazy even for the White House) (here the link from TPMTV), a very important thing to note, especially for a potential president with very little foreign policy experience and thus increasingly reliant on his advisors.
What is no doubt a little disconcerting about Giuliani to those who follow politics (except for Republicans of course!) is how eerily similar to President Bush he is
Rudy Giuliani, to quote a Democratic rival, would be like President Bush on steroids in the way he would go about protecting the U.S. from terrorists. In reality, Giuliani doesn't seem very different from Bush on the issue.
The former New York mayor says the government shouldn't be shy about eavesdropping on citizens. He is prepared to use military force to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons and root out terrorists in Pakistan. And he opposes a U.S. pullout from Iraq.
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, a Giuliani friend and adviser on homeland security issues, said in an interview: "I would say they're very much joined at the hip on these policies, and particularly the mind-set and commitment of both the president and Mayor Giuliani to stay on offense."
And given how "well" these policies have worked out for us the past 7 years, this observation is a very serious cause for concern. Do we really want another 7 years of Bush, or worse, "Bush on steroids" as Democrat John Edwards opined? Do we really want more Guantanamo's, more Abu Ghraibs, an indefinite occupation of Iraq, a new war in Iran and possibly Syria...do we really want someone who is so like our current President? A candidate for President so blinded that he would undermine our very Constitution (in much the same ways as our current President) and all that makes America America in order to "protect you."
In such a way as to give people the false dichotomy and choice that freedom MUST be sacrificed for security. That is a false choice: While some risk is always inherent in any system (and thats the price we pay) with many freedoms, our protection is always achievable within the bounds of our rule of law.
How is it that America lived through the most dangerous times; the Revolution, the War of 1812, fought off one of the most dangerous foes to freedom (fascism) during World War II, and faced off against an enemy with the capability of annihilate us in a nuclear holocaust during the Cold War without having to sacrifice our core American ideals, and our core Constitutional order?
The terrorist do not pose anywhere near the same level of existential threat as earlier ones yet some overreact to it and propose policies unthinkable during yet worse threats!! Why!?
It brings to mind a famous quote from Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither."
Anyways lets get on with this Rudy section...I need to further detail the crazy.
More on and his aggressive foreign policy
Bad huh? But it gets worse. Mr. Giuliani asks to have a briefing from Neoconservative godfather Norman Podhoretz on the war....World War IV.
That is NOT a typo
Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
Check out what nattering nabob of neoconservativism Norman Podhoretz, a top foreign policy adviser to Rudy, has just confided to The New York Observer about a recent private conversation he had with the candidate:
Norman Podhoretz believes that America needs to go to war soon with Iran. As far as he knows, Rudy Giuliani thinks the same thing.
“I was asked to come in and give him a briefing on the war, World War IV,” said Mr. Podhoretz, a founding father of neoconservatism and leading foreign policy adviser to Mr. Giuliani. “As far as I can tell there is very little difference in how he sees the war and how I see it.”
So what does Podhoretz have to say about our Middle East policy?
America should be working to overthrow governments in Saudi Arabia, Syria and Egypt and “every one of the despotic regimes in that region, by force if necessary and by nonmilitary means if possible,” he said. “They are fronts of the war. You can’t do everything at once. And to have toppled two of those regimes in five years or six years is I think a major achievement. And maybe George Bush won’t be able to carry it further, but I think he will. It may have just been given to him to start act one of the five-act play.”
Giuliani is surrounding himself...personally asking for advice and briefings, from a freakin' maniac!! Seriously, if Giuliani somehow wins the presidency (I doubt he will) than I will literally crap my pants in terror...seriously. Now, I don't know if it's possible to actually crap yourself in disgust as well, but I'm sure there will be some disgust mixed with that terror. Not sure how it works but I sure I'll manage it somehow.
But enough about my bowels, lets move on to Northern Iraq
Turkey's Threatened Invasion of Northern Iraq
Iraqi govt and US rhetoric against PKK militants have stepped up in recent days. Promises by Iraq's central government and the regional government to promise to shut down PKK offices have been met with skepticism and doubt. Likely because previous promises only led to the re-opening of such offices the very next day in another location.
Turkey sees Iraqi Kurdish authorities as very lax on stopping Kurds in their territories and lax on border enforcement
I saw an interview either yesterday morning or this morning with the Turkish ambassador to the United States and he more or less expressed that these assurances are not enough to satisfy Turkey or nearly enough to stop their drive to invade northern Iraq...they want more, and I'm not sure there are practical things the US or Iraqi forces can do that will satisfy the Turks.
This pressure seems to be getting to the US though because it recently has been reported that President Bush has offered to bomb PKK positions in Iraq
No doubt stemming from the desire not to move troops into Kurdish regions and out of other regions. I think he sees this as a way to thread the needle and satisfy Turkish rage, while not pissing of Kurds who would likely object to seeing US soldiers in their territory.
I'm honestly not sure if this will do, but it's actually possible that this could satisfy the Turks. The article offers up other alternatives: US forces (not gonna happen), or convincing the Kurdish regional government to use their security forces (Peshmerga ) to surround PKK camps and prevent them from moving beyond their mountain camps.
I'm not sure how likely it is, but the threat of invasion may just be enough of a fear that it provokes the normally lax Kurds to turn on fellow Kurds (Turkish Kurds).
Then again, this doesn't exactly fill me with confidence...no doubt it has the same effect on Turkish observers. Iraqis aren't exactly cracking down like they say they would.
Despite Turkey’s demand that the Kurdish regional government in northern Iraq clamp down on the PKK, there was no sign of any action against them.
On our way to the mountain, every checkpoint manned by the Iraqi army waved us through, and cheerfully provided directions on how to get to guerrilla positions.
Nor have the supply lines been cut. Several four-wheel-drive vehicles steered by toothless old men crawled along the tracks ahead of us, piled high with sackfuls of food.
If this is the result of future Iraqi assurances, than a Turkish invasion is much more likely to occur.
"I Don't Think This Place IS Worth Another Soldiers' Life" - (Washington Post)
The subheading says it all: "After 14 months in a Baghdad district torn by mounting sectarian violence, members of one U.S. unit are tired, bitter and skeptical."
Some troops just aren't seeing the point of 'being a bouncer between two brawling customers'. An interesting read.
10 anti-al-Qaeda sheiks are kidnapped - (CBS news) Pronouncements of Al-Qaeda's demise aside, this goes to show that AQI should not be counted out or written off just yet if they can still pull something like this off. Although in actuality AQI is not the most dangerous actor in Iraq, even among the Sunnis and never was.
Khamenei vs. Ahmadinejad - There's some interesting internal Iranian political games being played which makes for intriguing reading. "Khamenei" of course refers to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who is considered more of the true power in Iran than Iranian President Ahmadinedjad (or any person who holds the title of President in Iran).
But with the firing, which Larijani learned through news reports rather than directly, Ahmadinejad is challenging Khamenei's authority over Iranian state matters. Ahmadinejad knows that Larijani is an agent of those who actually want to resolve Iran's nuclear situation in a constructive way while Ahmadinejad benefits from the crisis and tension with the US and Europe...(snip)
There has been fragile but real deal making going on -- and it is progress on this front that Larijani wanted to have the government announce -- but Ahmadinejad refused.
More on this soap opera later -- but the big story here is that Ahmadinejad is challenging Khamenei directly and openly with Ali Larijani's firing. It will be interesting to see if Khamenei turns the other cheek or further undermines the "Dick Cheney of Iran" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
I'll definitely need to follow this story
Threats of Torture and Government Censorship
I have to concur with the sentiment expressed by the author: Holy Shit!!
Basically, the FBI coerced an innocent man into confessing by threatening his family with torture, eventually the man's innocence became clear and an appeals court ruled in his favor, but the opinion was swiftly pulled off the web. Then up came a new version:
A new version that conceals and censors the fact that...you know...the guy was coerced into confessing using threats of torture against his familiy.
People tell you anything you want to hear under circumstances like that, as well as under actual physical and psychological torture too. That's why as a practice (which doesn't touch how horribly immoral and wrong it is), torture and even rough tactics as threatening relatives should not be practiced.
Anything we learn is highly suspect. In worst-case scenarios we may base important decisions and policy, decisions with large-scale implications, on the "evidence" gathered from desperate people who just want to protect their family, or just want the pain to stop. And that would be a disaster.
Good night folks, that's all for tonight.
Labels: bush administration, foreign policy, Iran, Khamenei vs. Ahmadinedjad, kurds, neoconservatives, northern iraq, pkk, Rudy Giuliani, torture, Turkish military incursion