Monday, August 22, 2005


Checking sources, it appears there are errors in my previous article. The BBC News ran a story that the Monday deadline has been extended for three days. The ethnic dynamics are still the same. But according to this article, the Kurds disapprove of disregarding the Sunni demands. They (Sunnis and Kurds) agree on secular government in spite of their differences over federalism. This could lead to a counterweight to Shiite demands of an Islamic, Shariah-based government and legislature. Only time will tell. The fragile dynamics between the "interest groups" need to be respected if there is to be any peace.

Constitutional Iraq

The AFP reports that the Kurds and Shiite Muslims have agreed on a new constitution, leaving the Sunnis out of the final agreement. Up until the formation of the draft. Sunni members, along with Iraqi women's rights groups, had major qualms about several key factors in Iraq's future. Hastening the completion of the draft could prove problematic.

Iraqi women's groups were primarily concerned with the role of Islam in government. Shariah Islamic law, wanted by most Shiites to be primary legislative source for Iraq's family law, would set back Women's rights to a pre 1957 era. Women's rights have been relatively successful in the pre 2003 Iraq, where secular government was an exception to the region. Women could hold political office, be outside without a burka (full head to toe covering), and have near equality in matters of divorce, marriage, and property. If Shariah law is enacted, women's status in Iraq will be more likened to that in Iran and Saudi Arabia.
More about the Women's struggle can be found at the Institute for War and Peace reporting here.

The U.S., Kurds, and most Sunnis seemed mainly in agreement with women over the importance of secular government. However, the Shiites form a large plurality in Iraqi Parliament, holding more political sway than the Kurds and Sunnis. The U.S. has since given concessions to the Shiites over Shariah influence in order quicken the writing of the draft. If our goal in Iraq is to make the Middle East more helpful to U.S. national security, allowing another Islamic state to form won't help. Additionally, the spread of Medieval women's status will do nothing for democracy.

Then there is the question of federalism...

While, Kurds want their own autonomous regions in the north and Shiites want regions in the south, Sunnis have been vastly opposed to a federal Iraqi state. This is due to main Iraqi Oil production being located in these northern and southern regions. Sunnis are fearful that they won't have access to primary oil resources and the revenue that comes with it. Pushing through the draft of the constitution without Sunni consent on this matter is legal, given the majority of Kurdish and Shiite Parliament representation. However, the security ramifications of allowing federalism, in opposition to Sunnis, could prove problematic.

Including Sunnis in the political process is key to peace in Iraq. Most of the dissent in Iraq and insurgency is reportedly Sunni. Denying them further economic and political access will only increase their anger. Additionally, the Shiite radical cleric, Muqtata al-Sadr is opposed to Iraqi federalism. His large group of Shiite followers have previously been a major thorn in the side of U.S. forces. Denying his demands of a "unified Iraqi state" could twist that thorn.

Perhaps the Sunnis shot themselves in the foot by boycotting the January 30th elections. If they'd been more active then, an increased number in Parliament would have given them more negotiating power. Sunnis could negotiate for more secularism, more control over oil resources, a "unified Iraq." Now that the draft constitution is being pushed through, Iraqi and U.S. security forces risk further backlash. Political processes may resume control however in the constitution's October referendum, when Sunnis, Kurds, and women's groups will have another chance to voice their opinions.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mr. Ellis goes to washington?

An Ithsmus article gives Marc Eisen's opinion on a good candidate for Wisconsin Governor in 2006. From my very hometown of Neenah, WI comes Mike Ellis, a fiscal conservative and pragmatist...from the Republican party. Yes, Eisen compared Ellis to John McCain, the maverick from Arizona who doesn't build a platform on Gods, Guns, and Gays, but on campaign reform and balanced budgets, along with reorganization of the public sector. Mr. Ellis comes off as a candidate that won't bow to special interests, but rather a meek reformer and good-humored arbitrator.

All this flattery must stand up to voter scrutiny. If Ellis runs, does he plan on reforming the public sector in a way that's more efficient, or does he intend to cut it? Will he resort to common right-wing stances on Guns, Gay-Bashing, and diminishing domestic partnership benefits to gain votes? Will he be intend on taking a divided state legislature crippled by extremes and make progress? Does he plan on being a Bush syncophant or an individual in his own pary?

Eisen seems to be hopeful. Ellis certainly would bring in new possibilities to dealing with the republican-controlled legislature, something that Doyle is not very fit to do. He could bring back more moderates out of the partisan woodwork. And he's a far more moderate than a possible candidature of John Gard, who would rather lock gays in a tower and put a Jesus statue on the State Capitol. My cousin, Mr. Gard, is far too radical to be my governor.

So, let's hear more Mr. Ellis.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Democracy in Iran?

A Times article relays how hundreds of Iranian women demonstrated in Tehran today against government sexual discrimination. The demonstration was likely able to take place because of a more moderate attitude before polls open in the next presidential election.

Protestors and feminists stated that a candidate interested in promoting womens' rights would have to change the constitution, due to the fact that the rights concerned are determined strictly by Islamic Shariah law. 89 women reportedly ran for president last month, the six member Guardian Council rejected each one.

The protests reflect positive developments in Iran that wouldn't have been possible several years ago. Zahra Eshraghi, the granddaughter of the Islamic revolution's leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomenei, agreed that many rights involving the womens' movement are sanctioned by law, but things are gradually improving.

Much scepticism is placed in current reform candidates. Feminist leaders are concerned that such candidates are simply campaigning for votes, without intent to change the law. This is likely, but the fact that politicians are paying attention to womens' issues is a progressive step. Though the problem of women's rights needs a deeper revolution than in the political sphere; social and religious revolution is perhaps more important.

But with vocalisation and organization, there is hope.

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

U Dubya

Ed Garvey of the Capital Times writes about how politicians are tending to neglect the role of the University when it comes to civic engagement. Politicians writ large are choosing PAC's and lobbyists, corporations as their source for consultation on public affairs. These groups are also the ones that are able to provide most campaign funding and immediate economic benefit for said politicians. The question is then, how does this reflect democracy?

In short, it doesn't if the will of government is negociated with the few who enact money to their words. Back in the days of Bob La Follett, the Wisconsin Idea was that the concerns of farmers, laborers, artists, engineers, and other members of the citizenry would debate their concerns and ideas in more pure environments, including the academic one and civic groups. Though much has changed since then.

I take a lot of pride in my time at UW Madison. It's very much a globally-known institution, with a reputation for diverse views and conscientious thought. UW Madison ranks high as an institution of research, stem-cell research especially. The sociology program is number one in the nation (which was my specialty). UW Madison also beats Harvard in the number of CEOs that it produces, those who will lead the future markets. If those in government want to see long-run prosperity, they should focus using more funding to create a next generation of civically-involved, educated, disciplined citizens. The University system and public schools are where to start.

But the state Gop would rather cut education funding and build more prisons. Hell, it's better for the short term.
Anna Applebaum's Op-Ed bring's up the question of Amnesty International's use of the term "Gulag" to describe Guantanamo Bay. She makes several good points about mischaracterizing the United States. Soviet Gulags killed millions to keep a dictator in power, whose power could not be checked. The U.S. claims it will look into Guantanamo abuses, and has taken some steps to monitor and change. Also President Bush is hardly a Josef Stalin. Not only does he lack the same reputation and brutality, but American's can hold him accountable with little fear of being killed, especially if one is caucasian. (However, there are reports of Bush protesters being shoved out of rallies and arrested.)

Amnesty is supposed to be an independent political organization. Using the term, "Gulag" puts it in a political position against Bush's policies, and its rhetoric will do nothing but inflame those whose policies they intend to change. In other words, diplomacy calls for moderated dialogue if progressive movements are to ensue. If Amnesty wishes to change the policy in Guantanamo, they must meet with the Attorney General with their findings, while posting their research to the world in a way that doesn't cast America as a former Soviet Dictatorship.

Dick Cheney and John Bolton could also learn a lesson. If they wish to successfully engage North Korea, they would abstain from language that infuriates Kim Jong Il, and use more subtle economic threats via China to reach their objectives. But, since they haven't used this path, Kim John Il is continuing to pull out of the six-party talks.

Back to Amnesty, the "Gulag" metaphor also increases international pressure against US military operations around the world. Infuriating U.S. adversaries around the world is no way to ensure a quick end to the war in Iraq. In short, the truth about Guantanamo shouldn't be silenced, but used more diplomatically to change to policies set by those in power.

In many ways though, I think real diplomacy is taking a nap.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire Website

In a speech to Nebraska Democrats, the AP reports New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's take on the 2008 campaign.

"On the Democratic side, there is an impressive field of potential presidential candidates," Richardson began.

"There's Joe Biden, who may be able to bring back national security voters; Senator Evan Bayh from Indiana may be able to bring back the Midwest.

"Virginia Governor Mark Warner may bring back the South, and Hillary Clinton -- she's the only one who can bring back the White House furniture."

Dry political commentary at its best.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

True Blue Republicans, and how politics has failed them

David Brooks wrote an article Saturday about poor Repubicans, and their sway in American politics. It notes a recent pew poll showing poor representation of poor voters by both parties. The poll classifies poor demographics as socially conservative and fiscally conservative regardless of party. Regarding foreign policy, poor Republicans are hawkish, wheres their Democratic counterparts are against the war in Iraq.

Those identified as poor Republicans are, like poor democrats, critical of big business; the difference lies in how they view responsibility for their position. Poor Repulicans take more personal responsibility, but remain optimistic that individual persistence, character, and hard work will prevail against economic insecurity. Their Democratic counterparts are more likely to feel that economic security is beyond their control.

Not to say that the lefties love government assistance, while the conservatives reject it completely. Both are looking for assistance. It's only that the right-leaning poor don't want programs that undermine work ethic. Undoubtedly, the poor Republicans' position is admirable and practical. Strong work ethic, individuality, and optimism are desirable and distinguishable American traits. Our founding fathers, and mothers, thrived on there ability to innovate and survive despite adversity.

Nevertheless, I believe many rich and elitist leaders on both sides of the aisle don't pay enough attention to these poor constituents. 83 percent of the poor Republicans polled believe big business has too much control, compared to 26 percent of rich Republicans. 80 percent believe the government should help the needy, compared to 19 percent of rich Republicans. The trouble is, most Republican leaders belong to the later cohort.

Large deficits in the present, caused by miscaluculated tax-cuts and pork spending, will make difficult future goals of raising the lower class to the desired middle class. Cuts to Pell grants and Medicaid are also making it more difficult. If social movement is a goal, individual optimism is a must, but if conditions are too hostile, that mentality may slowly become more cynical.

Democrats who loathe free trade and costly welfare handouts are no better. Throwing money via a bureaucratic umbrella at the impoverished will not aid them in improving their condition. Additionally, those poor Republicans who value individuality abhore such policies. Furthermore, protectionist policies, as anyone who took economics in high school knows, cheats the consumer (unnecessarily high prices) and insults the workers by not allowing them to adapt to globalization and the increasing need for market flexibility.

The poor Republican/poor Democrat cohort has often been called "middle America." I believe true representatives of them must respect their individuality, aiding them through streamlined healthcare and education assistance. Results, testing, and accountability of such programs is a must. Which is why such programs as No Child Left Behind are a good concept (though lack of funding and state-flexibility are obstacles to its success).

Those in office must do a better job at connecting with these groups, especially running Democrats. If they want to win the next election, they're going to have to adopt "middle American values." Hopefull signs of fiscal responsibility and bipartisanship are evident in such models as Barack Obama, Russ Fiengold, Bill Richardson, and Evan Bayh. Their Republican counterparts: John McCain, Chuck Hagel are also on the right, ahem correct track.

Saturday, May 7, 2005

GO Demoncracy!

Looks like things in Uzbekistan are at an all-time low on the Democracy scale. After a riot and prison break led by Islamic opposition on Friday, soldiers began firing on protesters, killing around five hundred people. Survivors of the skirmish recalled how soldiers fired "indiscriminately at unarmed civilians and struck women and children." See article.

After the prison quagmire, some survivors went to Andijon to speak directly with President Islam Karimov about their grievances. They reported being met with further gunfire. "Tanks came, with soldiers," said Makhammed Mavlanov, a trader and Kyrgyz citizen. "Shooting started. There was no fight. It was just mass death."

The United States has finally responded to the violence, according to the Washington Post. "We certainly condemn the indiscriminate use of force against unarmed civilians and deeply regret any loss of life," says State Department spokesman, Richard A. Boucher. Condaleeza Rice has also called on Karimov to reform Uzbekistan's sketchy political environment.

The United States still considers Uzbekistan to be a partner in the War on Terror. Though if the relationship needs to be reevaluated if it continues. If the War on Terror is meant to spread democracy, hold states that use excessive force accountable, we need to do more than give allies slaps on the wrist.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Democracy When?

A New York Times article today points out how the U.S. is likely using Uzbekistan to jail terror suspects, despite the fact that Uzbekistan is known for its poor human rights record and torture of political prisoners. A February 2001 state department report reports how prisoners beaten, "often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask," while other human rights groups, including Amnesty International, report torture methods such as “boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers.” In regards to the Uzbek government, the State Department report states, "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."

Regardless, the Bush administration has supported the despotic regime, led by President Islam Karimov there, and included it as an ally in the fight against global terrorism. After a 2002 visit by Karimov to the White House, Bush has said, “the world community cannot deprive this person of the moral and physical right to stand among those who have suppressed the forces of fear and terror becoming the living symbol of his country.” Since September 11,2001, the U.S. government has given more than $500 million to the country for security measures.

Since the new alliance against terror, has the U.S. pressured Uzbekistan to clean up its human rights record? According to various statements in the February 2005 article by Amitabh Pal in the Progressive magazine, Uzbekistan is as corrupt as ever. Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan stated, “Tortured dupes are forced to sign confessions showing what the Uzbek government wants the U.S. and U.K. to believe, - that they and we are fighting the same war on terror.” Additionally the February 2005 State Department report on human rights abuses still finds Uzbekistan to be noncompliant.

President Bush case against Iraq and other targets in the War on Terror has brought up human rights abuses, citing Hussein’s use of chemical and biological weapons against Iraqis. The response was to invade Iraq and try to establish democracy there in order allow citizens freedom and government accountability. Why not hold Uzbekistan to the same standard?

Military action is about protecting national interests. In the case of Iraq, security was the proclaimed national interest, with neoconservative justification that spreading democracy to a despotic region would make it more secure. That being said, Iraq never attacked us. Neither did Uzbekistan for that matter.

Not that the Bush administration is alone in hypocritical alliances with despots when it comes to foreign policy. Reagan formed cushy ties with a little-known group called the Taliban in the 1980s to fight the Soviet Union and with Hussein to fight the Iranians; of course, they posed no “threat” to us then.

The main point is that our stance towards despotic regimes has been wildly inconsistent. If America is going to be the beacon on the rock that spreads democracy around the globe, the Bush administration must hold allies accountable, including themselves when it comes to torture and human rights abuses.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Faith-based Policy

President Bush "answered" questions today about many issues affecting his popularity, among them: Iraq quagmire, weapons programs in the hands of rogue states, No Child Left Behind. Little details or conclusive assertion were given. Mainly, Bush has asked Americans to put faith in policies that are meeting difficulty because they are a means to a desired end, or they sound nice. That's how he sells most of the policies he champions.

Here's a review of a few topics that were given attention...

When asked about a strong insurgency in Iraq, and a recent report that states how terrorist attacks increased in frequency between 2003 and 2004, Bush resounded his claim that freedom is on the march. American-driven democracy is the cure-all for the sectarian conflict in the Middle East and disputes between Islam and the West.

The recent forming of a cabinet and organization by Prime Minister Jaafari, Talabani, etc. all make a semblance of Democracy, and Jan. 30th elections showed a willingness of the Iraqis to participate, but does that make local ideology more tolerant of the West? Of course, one will only know by reading future history books. But rallies against the "Great Satan" taking place in Saudi Arabia and Syria make one skeptical.

Sum Bush response: Have Faith!

When asked about NEA lawsuits over the No Child Left Behind act and their claim of inadequate federal funding, Bush dodges the issue of funding and talks about the principle of the law which requires testing. He says blatantly that he doesn't know about the lawsuit, then goes on describing how its good that kids are measured on their ability to read, write, and do math.

The NEA isn't really taking issue with testing and agrees that kids ought to know how to read, write, and do things like "add, subract, multiply, and divide." However, Bush insists that the NEA rejects testing, and have a bad attitude, that they should change. I think Bush should really read up on that lawsuit.

Sum Bush Response: You better change your attitude!

Also, Bush sheds his great perpective on Putin's Russia,.
A reporter asked Bush about how Putin's willingness to sell short-range weapons to Syria and "nukular" materials to Iran reflects on Putin's willing to enact democratic reform.

Bush responded in a broader sense, reflecting on his talks with Putin in Slovakia about democracy. "he (Putin) stood up and said he strongly supports democracy. I take him for his word." Little reassurance there.

In regards to Syria, "we're working closely with the Russians on the issue of vehicle-mounted weaponry to Syria. We didn't appreciate that, but we made ourselves clear."

Sum Bush Response: shrug

In regards to Iran, "What Russia has agreed to do is to send highly enriched uranium to a nuclear civilian power plant and then collect that uranium after it's used for electricity, power purposes...I appreciate that gesture."

Sum Bush Response: Let's let the guys who are selling the Syrians weapons deal with regulating Iran's nuclear capabilities.

Bush ends his conference leaving more questions than answering those that he dodged, adding a quip about how he doesn't want to "cut in on TV show that are ready to air." One would rather have a distraction than to understand much of Bush's policy, such is the mass response his presidency.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

NCLB and then some...

The National Education Association and eight school districts in Texas, Michigan, and Vermont are suing the Department of Education over the No Child Left Behind Act. The NEA decries that the DEA violated a provision in the law that states cannot be forced to spend their own money to meet federal requirements (NYTimes). Additionally, Connecticut's Attorney General and Utah's republican-dominated state legislature are threatening legal action on the same terms.

The act orders that students in every demographic must score higher on standardized testing than the previous year in order to ensure funding to the school district. If the school fail to meet the standards, they face sanctions such as school closure and loss of funding.

Early critics on the law found standardized testing to be a useful tool in determining the effectiveness of school districts, but found its punitive provisions to be not useful in ameliorating the problems of poor-performing districts. Detractors also found that federal money towards the districts was inadequate for enhancing performance, and that decisions over how to deal with the delinquent districts should be left to local authorities. It seems that all these criticisms are now assimilating into a joint legal action among states.

The DEA asserts that the Bush Administration is spending more on education than previous administrations, citing four studies that find the law to be accurately funded.

Concerned districts still persist that passing standardized tests is a major problem. Perhaps a solution would evaluate said tests' ability to measure academic achievement. For comparison, many studies have found standardized tests such as the SAT and GRE to be ineffective at measuring intelligence and academic proficiency. Tweaking the standardized tests may make them more effective.

Another problem is that federal standards may be inapplicable to local districts. Perhaps it would be better to have individual states create there own tests. That way, states with differing standards and demographics could administer more relevant testing.

Cutting funding to failing school districts is another provision that makes little sense. An inner-city school that handles at-risk children likely need more support than less. The No Child Left Behind Act would drain such schools of further resources to improve and advance social mobility.

The debate over the No Child Left Behind Act is a complex one. It's a pity that Congress has not had a more serious debate over its effectiveness, or lack thereof. Until now, it's been partisan bickering about who is a greater supporter of educational accountability. Educational accountability as a goal is understood. How we proceed from there should be reviewed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tom Delay is still blabbering on about how activist judges have a broken moral compass when it came to the Schiavo case, going on and on about how the judges will have to answer to God when it comes to aiding in America's conspiracy against conservatives.

If republicans consider themselves conservatives, they'd be hard-pressed to find a hostile American attack on their ideals given the fact that America voted for their majority in the first place.
Flocks of evangelical Christians would love to support Delay in his "plight" against the "liberal majority."

Tom Delay is a liability for Republicans in 2006, and moderate republicans (typically more authentically conservative) have been calling for his resignation. Bush still defends him though. Not surprising, he needs Delay to aid in the "great struggle" to "save social security," to assist with the new Bankruptcy bill, and rally many Christian fundamentalists.

Bill Frist is also getting psycho, portraying democrats as "against people of faith (NYTIMES)" because they object to Bush's judicial nominees. Democrats have criticized nominees because of stances on abortion and public religious expressions, but its more of an issue of church-state separation and sticking with traditional democrat stances on the right to choose. It's a wild generalization that doesn't aid the debate.

There are many Democrats of faith, and I don't believe democrats ever took issue with people of faith, let alone faith itself. His comments are akin to labeling an entire political group as anti-american. It's as bad as saying republicans hate poor people. Throwing labels blatantly disregards an accurate description of either perspective.

That said, his words, however misguided, will rally support from fundamentalist groups. Though we will likely see that psycho accusations will distance himself from voters who are conscientious.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Cotecna and Halliburton

An independent panel investigating the U.N. Oil for Food Program corruption has exonerated Kofi Annan of corruption in regards to awarding Cotecna program contracts. The report only criticized Annan for not investigating his son, Kojo’s, ties to Cotecna in 1999, when suspicion arose that the Swiss company was allowing Hussein skim funds off of the U.N. program for personal benefit.

Meanwhile, the panel found Kojo Annan guilty in conspiring with Cotecna in the Oil for Food scandal and being uncooperative with independent investigators. Mr. Annan had also been hiding further connection with the firm after his resignation in 1998; the panel found that he had been collecting benefits from the company until February 2004.

As a result, Republican ideologues have criticized the U.N. and Kofi Annan of blatant corruption and conflict of interest by awarding contracts to corporations that exploit dire situations. Senator Norm Coleman of Minnesota (R) has called on Mr. Annan to resign, citing Annan’s “lack of leadership” and “lack of responsibility and accountability.”

Touché Mr. Coleman. There seems to be a conflict of interest story right here in the United States Republican leadership. There seems a striking similarity between Bush/Cheney and Kofi/Kojo, between Halliburton and Cotecna.

Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton until running for vice president in 2000. After becoming vice president, he received nearly 400,000 dollars in deferred payment from the company.
Halliburton was founded to overbill more that 6 million dollars on a no-bid contract with the U.S. Government to supply and service U.S. troops in Iraq.

Both Cotecna and Halliburton are guilty of corruption in regards to situations in Iraq, whether stealing from humanitarian aid before the war, or from the U.S. military after the war. Both Cheney and Kojo have invested personal interest to award firms with valuable government contracts. Both Cheney and Kojo have been unclear about their compensation after leaving their respective companies.

Those in the Bush Administration and its constituents should examine their own charges of corruption, “lack of responsibility and accountability” before throwing stones. Should Kofi Annan resign over the Oil for Food Scandal? “Hell no.” Should the administration be so quick to judge him? “Hell no.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In response to my earlier entry, "Iraqi Security Forces," I am pleased to see that so many Iraqis are rising up for the sake of national democracy. I agreed with many foreign policy experts, Friedman, Brooks, Powell, that true success in Iraq would be mainly won by its citizens, grace a the aid of many in the U.S. armed forces. The New York Times today reports how Iraqi citizens are taking it upon themselves to fight the insurgency.

The story begins with how a carpenter named Dhia fired upon Mujahedeen gunmen, keeping them in check before they could attack his shop. His defiantly stated, "I am waiting for the rest of them to come, and we will show them." Also, the article reported how hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of the city hall in Hilla to denounce a suicide bombing that happened last month, killing 136 people. Additionally, Newsweek reported last week how women were organizing in Iraq to promote legal and professional equality in the face of being kidnapped.

This is the message of hope for democracy in Iraq, the will of people to fight for their own country and law in the face of hostility. Iraqi people feel that it is in their best long-term interest to move toward progress, away from augmenting the power of leaders and movements who incite violence. This coupled with the heavy voter turnout makes the possibility of democracy to be that much more viable, and eventually a more free and moderate Iraqi voice.

That said, President Bush seems to take much undeserved credit for the "March of Democracy" in Iraq, among other reforms happening in the Middle East. While Iraqi regime change may have been a catalyst for such progressive events to unfold, the causes lied within the Kurdish and Shiite dissatisfaction with Baathist rule. Sistani and Allawi are two figures that weathered the storm of the insurgency to rally both a religious and secular motions respectfully toward democracy. Sistani called for rejection of the insurgency and urgency of the vote to defy opponents of citizen autonomy. Allawi is the strongman who ordered training of security forces and collaboration of intelligence against terrorists.

On the other hand, Bush's reasons for going to war have been disproved (WMDs, Al Queda ties). Though he justifies invasion of Iraq as a means to combat terrorism, protect American securiy. The notion that the spread of Democracy will decrease Islamic fundamentalism is susceptible to Iraqi opinion of the United States. It will rely upon how we support them, our past dealings with them, and American Administrations' past and current support of autocratic leaders to keep oil fields going. Already, Middle Eastern Democracy does not necessarily equal greater American national security. Lebanese waving anti-Syrian flags next to anti-American banners does not mean that America will be less despised when Syria pulls out. Iraqis fighting for the rule of Shariah law or more secular law instead of Baathist autocracy does not mean that Shiites and Sunnis will be more kind to the West.

To put it bluntly, Bush is operating in Damage-Control mode when speaking of the Democracy-Spreading goal. He uses it to give new meaning to U.S. operations in Iraq, portraying himself as a hero of peace after being a "war president." The progressive movements taking place are due to long yearning for moderate and democratic voices, given aid by altruistic efforts of many U.S. Military personnel. The neoconservative ideology, pushing for the beginning of the Iraq war, was merely a catalyst, like the death of Arafat, and the Harriri assassination.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

New Beginning, or Same old Clog?

So Dr. Rice took over for Colin Powell, being praised on one hand for her clairvoyance and intelligence, being lambasted on the other for being a clog in Bush's political machine. Whatever one's point of view is, she is undeniably supportive when it comes to the Bush administration's foriegn policy. On Bush's diplomacy, she said, "That is the mission that President Bush has set for America in the world, and it's the great mission of American diplomacy today," (Washington Times 1/19/05).

Really? Recent evidence would go against the great hand of Bush's diplomacy. Especially in regards to Iraq.

The Bush's case for war in Iraq has been disproven time and time again. No weapons of mass destruction have been found, in fact the search ended with no results. Links between Iraq and 9/11 have been deemed untrustworthy by the 9/11 commision. The question is, would America have given Bush authority to go to war on such grounds? Highly doubtful. The war has cost over one hundred billion dollars and many soldiers' lives. American's shouldn't rationally bear such burdens with such a case, or lack thereof.

Now all the administration talks about is the need to promote democracy in Iraq. Though it is a noble goal, the latest CIA report notes how Iraq is a new training ground for Islamic militants. This is hardly a success-story when it comes to nation-building.

Only two Senators voted against Rice's nomination as secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry and Ms. Barbara Boxer. Ms. Boxer makes a good point, "I find it so troubling that the Bush administration used the fear of terror to make the war against Iraq appear to be part of the response to 9/11," Ms. Boxer said. "You were involved in that effort." It's good that some senators are being critical.

With all these problems surrounding the "diplomacy" and "foriegn policy" of the Iraq situation, I find the administration's competency, including that of Dr. Rice, to be suspect. She already is engaged in some of the blunders of the past term, unapologetically cover for her hus-, her boss. She talks of six outposts of tyranny, sounding like Bush's axis of evil.

Still, she has a way of invoking some hope in her talking points. She states, "More than ever, America's diplomats will need to be active in spreading democracy, fighting terror, reducing poverty, and doing our part to protect the American homeland." To be sure, we need to mend ties with many European allies to be secure and ameliorate international situations.

"Americans should make a serious effort to understand other cultures and learn foreign languages," she states. "Our interaction with the rest of the world must be a conversation, not a monologue." Again, the words bring me hope that America will strive to be multilateral and more empathetic.

However, given the Bush administration's track record in Iraq, let's hope that her words more about how America will change it's foriegn policy. Let's hope that it is not nearly hot air, covering for the administration, and effectively acting as a clog in the political machine.