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Mar 2003

This page collects selected questions from the media, our visitors, and from our own sources. We hope they are thought provoking.

19 Dec 2003 -- The Nation reports that Karl Rove is strong-arming state GOP senators into redistricting their states to benefit Mr. Bush without waiting for the next census. Quoting Diane DeGette--US Representative: " I talked to a number of Republican legislators and they said, "I've got to do this, I'm being forced to do this." What is the hurry?

Well, if Mr. Bush wins another term with a Congress that is filibuster-proof, what is to stop him from impeaching all in the judiciary who disagree with him on any issue, and replacing them with authoritarian personalities willing to reinterpret the constitution to his liking? In that case, liberty and freedom as we know them would surely disappear. We could even be governed by a cadre of Neocon "elites" (also known as plutocrats) who would elect and reelect themselves ("constitutionally" through the electoral college) without term limits. See also Eroding Liberty.

Of course we hope the above is a pipe dream, but it is theoretically possible. Only the American electorate can prevent it by either denying him another term and/or by denying him the enabling majority in Congress.

30 Nov 2003 -- Arab News Spoke of the Bush visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving this way: "His approval ratings are bound to soar as a result. A PR stunt it may have been, but what those who deride it as such fail to understand is that PR stunts are what drives so much of politics in the West. They are what can win elections."

Do the Arabs see us better than we see ourselves?
Obviously! But let's think about that. PR it surely was. And just as surely PR can win an election. So we now have a second question:

Is a society that is swayed by PR the kind of society that existed when our country was founded? Is it what our founding fathers expected would come?

Of course not to both questions. PR was still in its infancy. Instead, our founding fathers went to work publishing the Federalist Papers that have become classics in jurisprudence.

23 Nov 2003 -- How does Iraqification differ from Vietnamization?

The short answer is that the Vietnamese had a stable orderly government while Iraq does not.

The longer answer comes from Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Ceding US authority prematurely will only create a power vacuum and start a civil war among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds."

17 Nov 2003 -- In reference to representative government in Iraq. Is an occupying power that has so far failed to tame the streets capable of setting up such a government?

Question / answer from "The Economist."

Iraqis need to feel right now that America is handing over some genuine power to a genuinely representative government. [Credibility remains a serious problem.]

2 Nov 2003 -- May 1 2003, Bush declares the war is over. If so, why was Nov 2 2003 the deadliest single day of the war? Why has terror returned to Afghanistan?

Mr. Bush has no adequate answer and neither do we.

Maybe Mr. Bush has never read the Qur'an or Hadith in the context of Islamic history, or ever studied the Crusades, the Inquisition or Reformation. With his apparent insight, would it have made any difference if he had? Your guess is as good as ours.

2 Nov 2003 -- "Last year the Bush administration, in return for a military base in Uzbekistan, gave $500 million to a government that, according to the State Department, uses torture "as a routine investigation technique," and whose president has killed opponents with boiling water. The moral clarity police were notably quiet."

"Why is aiding a brutal dictator O.K., while trying to understand why others don't trust us — and doing something to create that trust —isn't?"

Answer: " these cases politics takes priority over the war on terror."
Paul Krugman, NYT; Op Ed of this date.

16 Oct 2003 -- Mr. Bush pledged to rebuild Iraq to the point where they can manage themselves politically and economically. Seven million Iraqis are out of work. Then why are US companies hiring cheap Southeastern Asian workers to accomplish the rebuild?

Answer: Mr. Bush's plutocratic agenda must come ahead of Iraq and even ahead of America.

11 Oct 2003 -- Shirin Ebadi won the Nobel Peace Prize. Immediately, she asked that political prisoners in Iran be released. At the same time she pointedly warned the US to stay out of Iran's internal affairs. Is this an example of true diplomacy?

Answer: Yes, indeed, and it is an example we fear will not be followed by those who believe only guns and swords can bring peace on earth.

6 Oct 2003 -- Excerpts from

"Last month, he [Sen. Edward Kennedy] accused President Bush of waging a fraudulent war for his own political gain and of "bribing" other nations to send in troops to help secure and rebuild the war-torn nation."

"Mr. Bush replied that the comments were 'uncivil,' though he noted in a Fox News interview that he still respects the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, 'with whom I've worked.'"

This month: "The George Bush Award for Excellence goes to ... [Sen. Edward] Kennedy.Honor from president's father comes after charge of incivility."

Former President Bush has sole discretion over who receives the award. Previous winners were Mikhail Gorbachev and Helmut Kohl.

The logical question: How do you suppose the obvious awkwardness will be handled?

The cynical question: Why is the former President Bush reaching out to such a well-known Democrat?
Answer: Stay tuned.

6 Oct 2003 -- David Corn's witty and well researched book about the lies of George W Bush came across our desk. The question is simple: "Why does he do it?"

The answer, again from the book, is equally simple: Because it works!

3 Oct 2003 -- The Homeland Security Bill is supposed to protect us from terrorism. So why did our town have to lay off over one hundred public safety personnel for lack of support at the state level, which arose from lack of support at the federal level?

Answer: No one will ever know what influence the HSB will have on our safety. But we already know our town is so short-handed that a terror attack could even be invited. We also now know what Mr. Bush meant when he said compassionate conservatism. Compassionate words out of his mouth are drowned out by the "fire" in his actions. More people have been "fired" under Bush than under any president since Herbert Hoover, and the blood letting continues.

17 Sept 2003 -- In the matter of Detroit Edison Monroe Power Plant in Michigan, eighth largest emitter of sulfur dioxide in the country. "The site of the speech was chosen as a model plant that would benefit from the Bush's new NSR rule; however, the rule would enable the Monroe plant to dump at least 30,000 more tons of sulfur dioxide emissions each year." "Bush argued that the EPA's decision was too "complicated" to implement quickly..." MoveOn quoting the NYT, 16 Sept 2003. Is this progress?

The answer: Nature has already spoken:

  • The North Pole ice cap is melting.
  • Birds are migrating farther North (and South) each year.
  • Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are increasing in the atmosphere with the US the lead producer.
  • Citizens in most US cities and many other places in the world breath unhealthy air.

15 Sept 2003 -- Attorney General John Ashcroft is touring America to promote his Patriot Act that so many people are beginning to see for what it is, a plutocratic rip-off and squelching of dissent all wrapped in "Old Glory", while he gains the ability to intrude and hold folks in custody indefinitely without so much as a hearing. If the act is not these things, then, I have two questions.

  • Why does he need to spend public money to promote it?
  • Why was his public relations stop in North Carolina closed to the public?

Let's get something straight. We now pay to hear propaganda by our government whether or not we support it. This has nothing to do with whether the message is good or bad, it is the principle. And how can a public relations tour be effective if it is closed to the public? Finally, why is a PR tour even necessary?

The global answer: the Bush Administration is not what it presents itself as being. There are huge gaps between its words and deeds.

7 Sept 2003 -- Where in America would you look for the nearest example of a racist plutocracy? Look for

  • a state constitution that was drafted in 1901.
  • a regional holding company, the largest bank in that state.
  • that state's forestry association.
  • that state's farmer's association.
Then look for the opposition to these entities.
  • The governor.
  • The primary religious denominations.
  • The teachers association.
  • The African-American elected officials.
  • The major newspapers.
  • The state's power and high-tech sector.
  • The antipoverty coalition.

Finally look for a state with a tax-reform vote on 9 Sept 2003.
The answer: Alabama. (Allen Tullos, The Nation, 22 Sept 2003)

3 Sept 2003 -- In March and April the UN was said to be obsolete by some Neocons. Why isn't it still? Isn't it time to give the presidency back to the president? He could never make such a stupid mistake!

22 Aug 2003 -- Is Col. Black Diamond Joan of Arc reincarnate? Mawata Tranaray, a woman of 22 (or 18 according to a less likely reference) commanded the "Women's Artillery Commandos" unit of the main Liberian Rebel movement that pushed into the heart of Monrovia, the capital, forcing the exile of Charles Taylor. Highly motivated and as ruthless as her mail counterparts, she gained such respect in battle that even male soldiers around her jumped to do her commands.

In this part of Africa it is very uncommon to see females in the front lines, much less in command of an all-female unit. Charles Taylor and his army motivated Black Diamond and her soldiers by their ruthless and rapacious treatment of women. Most of her unit will likely return to the villages, farms and schools they left to settle the old scores. Black Diamond is not so sure of her future, but expects it to be better than it was. Hopefully, the world has not heard the last of Black Diamond, the modern version of Joan of Arc.

Black Diamond comments: "Women can do something here and we show they can do it better than men." WSJ 22 Aug 2003. She is a member of LURD, Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy. Liberia has not yet returned to democracy, but score one for anti- terrorism.

12 Aug 2003 -- The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, ruled last year that the Myanmar villagers could sue Unocal under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a two-centuries-old law that allows non-citizens to file civil lawsuits under limited circumstances. The case must allege a violation of "specific, universal and obligatory" international norms: egregious acts, like the forced labor the Myanmar villagers say Unocal aided and abetted.

The Bush administration argues that permitting the Myanmar villagers to sue will interfere with American foreign policy, including the war on terrorism.

His message is clear. Mr. Bush is interested in protecting US companies from accusations of forced labor or other such violations of a "specific, universal and obligatory" international norm. Is this the way to win friends and influence people? see Bush Doctrine for more.

25 July 2003 -- Extremism in action? One week ago, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas summoned police to break up a meeting of Democrats. Democrats on the committee were angered when they discovered a bill they were about to vote on had been altered overnight. They retreated to the library to consider what to do about the situation. Bill Thomas used police to break up their deliberations. This occurred in our nation's capitol! Extremism in action? You bet. March toward dictatorship? You can hope not. You can also join Moveon.

What about women power?

Inul Daratista has something to say. Quite by accident she drew a line in the sand between the secular and religious in Indonesia. Dancing and singing for a dollar a song in eastern Java, she made such a hit that she became big time on national prime-time TV. Then fatwas flew from all directions. Her sponsors cut her off and she returned home humiliated. Then a funny thing happened. Her fans urged her to stand up for her rights and not to give up. They also created a nationwide uproar joined by millions, including many in Parliament.

Two months later she was back on Prime time including a serial patterned after her life. She became more popular than ever. The fatwa issuers fell silent. Was it freedom exercised by women in the manner of Ode to America? We hope so.

The poor people and the middle class, her fans, made democracy work. Inul is a devout Muslim and continues her religious activities. She just doesn't go along with being a second-class citizen.
Who is humiliated now? Have we heard the last from Inul? Probably not.

13 July 2003 -- Who was it that said?

  • George Tenet did it...
  • The buck stops here...

The moments in history were quite different. The elements of accountability were the same. One of these men, the fancy one, walked into a quagmire; the other, the responsible one, rebuilt Europe.

12 July 2003 -- Women make up nearly 2/3 of the Iraq population. They have an important role to play in building a democratic Iraq. So why are they so conspicuous by their absence? Why are they hiding in their homes?

6 July 2003 -- Why hasn't Shoshana Johnson, the other rescued POW in Iraq been eulogized the way Jessica Lynch has? Tony Norman replies: "Shoshana is a black single mother from El Paso. Need we say more?"

3 July -- Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Sen. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, have called on Bush to give other nations a larger role in rebuilding and securing Iraq. On Wednesday, Bush said he would welcome such help. But Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld indicated this week that the United States expected relatively minor international participation in the Iraq effort. So who is in charge and who is double speak?

Mon, 30 June -- Abraham Maslow is quoted: "Why is it that if the only tool in your kit is a hammer, all problems tend to look like nails?" Is there any connection here with the direction this administration is taking?

5 June 2003 -- From Why do you think Sharon, formerly an ardent follower of Revisionist Zionism and a proponent of "Greater Israel" has come full circle and now appears to occupy a place in the political center rather than on the far right?
Michael M.
Austin, Texas

Akiva Eldar:
When Sharon first took office as prime minister, he made a strategic decision not to jeopardize Israel's and his personal relationship with the Bush administration. Once Bush submitted the road map and made it his baby, Sharon could not kill it without paying a price that he is not willing to pay. Sharon also realized that the Israeli economy and Israeli society paid a huge price because of the Intifada - a price that threatens to undermine the resilience of the Israeli people. Even in the IDF, there is a growing skepticism regarding a military solution. Is this a replay of history? Why are news media characterizing Intifada II an Israeli victory?

1 June 2003 -- Now that a popular resistance appears to have begun in Iraq, how can the US avoid getting bogged down as an occupier and stimulating terrorism further? This question was apparently not asked up front in the Rumsfeld war room. Basic security and necessities for living must be restored first. Meanwhile and thereafter govern in a way that allows local leadership to emerge naturally from the ground up. A middle class must be reconstituted to manage the infrastructure. Integration of the various ethnic groups must occur at all levels (perhaps the toughest nut to crack). Iraqi people must feel empowered and in fact be empowered to influence their future. Then serious work can begin on a constitution.

If that can be achieved by actually practicing democracy, then there is a reasonable chance that Iraq, in time, can then be stable and model state.

25 May 2003 -- Now that a tobacco control treaty has been approved by the World Health Assembly in Geneva, would Mr. Bush sign it? Ans: If he behaves true to form he will not. His Plutocratic America-First policies and the facts that he walked away from treaties guarding the treatment of women and the environment as well as the treaty on racism lead us to believe he will vote with big tobacco.

22 May 2003 -- Now that it is over, why did we go to war in Iraq? Ans: Given that Mr. Bush's scare tactics proved groundless, it could have been either an intelligence failure or deception. The world may be even less safe now. It is certainly less harmonious.

18 May 2003 -- Is it theological nonsense to suggest that God's final concern is with our ability to conform to a complex set of rules? A Muslim reply: "His concern is rather that we should be restored, through our labours and His grace, to that state of purity and equilibrium with which we were born."

14 May 2003 -- New American Century statement of principles

"The Project for the New American Century is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to a few fundamental propositions: that American leadership is good both for America and for the world; that such leadership requires military strength, diplomatic energy and commitment to moral principle; and that too few political leaders today are making the case for global leadership."

Would someone please explain how global leadership differs from imperialism?

30 April 2003 -- Open Letter from Sheikh Safar Hawali to President Bush:

"...we don’t forget our tragedies no matter how much time has passed. Imagine, Mr. President, we still weep over Andalusia [Loss of Spain in 1492.] and remember what Ferdinand and Isabella did there to our religion, culture and honor! We dream of regaining it. Nor will we forget the destruction of Baghdad, or the fall of Jerusalem at the hands of your Crusader ancestors.
"You may say, 'We intend to remove anything that will incite hate from sermons, school curricula, newspaper articles and the media.' We reply that if that is your democracy, then there is try as you like, but you should be sure that you will not succeed. We learned to hate oppression and love the truth from our religion and our Qur’an, and it is stronger than all of your means, and firmer than your mountains. If you refuse everything but the arrogance of force and the insanity of greatness, then there are no means left for you except the extermination of all the Muslims with nuclear or biological weapons, or whatever you want from [your] hellish arsenal..."

Does Sheikh Safar Hawali speak for all Muslims or just the Fundamentalist factions? Is it true that all Muslims will fight to the death?

14 April 2003 -- If the United States is the leading example of freedom and democracy, then why are we trying to dictate to the rest of the world?

11 April 2003 -- Military technology and ability to implement has once again outstripped statesmanship. Tyranny on Tuesday gave way to Euphoria in many places on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was back to tyranny again, the tyranny of anarchy. In many places in Iraq, want and hunger are the new tyrants.

The UN wasn't good enough (according to Bush) to partner the war, nor share in the rebuilding, but it is good enough to provide humanitarian aid. Christian Evangelists agree and will use this opportunity to proselytize converts. Given all these circumstances, where can Islam go from here? Can it?

10 April 2003 -- What about democracy? We have it and enjoy it as individuals. From our Nuclear Terror page, it would seem that all nations, in order to realize a greater good for all on earth, must yield enough sovereignty to ensure the safety of all humankind. The problem for Americans will be to yield any sovereignty at all for the sake of ensuring peace. America is a superpower, but only in a military sense. In diplomacy and economics, Europe has caught up and the Chinese are coming on strong. Can we hope to win a lasting peace by putting America first in all matters? Is not what is best for all the world's citizens also best for us? Does our concept of democracy begin and end at our borders? A democratic world requires also a democracy of nations.
From Suicide Terror page

7 April 2003 -- Retired American Generals have been asked their opinions of the Iraq war by the major networks. Several have been critical of the war plan unfolding. They have also been criticized for being critical. Senator John Warner has proposed a new standard of etiquette for retired military officers that would muzzle them. Is this an abridgment of First Amendment freedoms?

29 Mar 2003 -- How will winning the war in Iraq bring peace? Certainly, Hussein, like Omar, will be overthrown. What then? Certainly, other Middle Eastern nations will fear us even more than they do now. No Iraqi wants a military governor, or even a civilian governor, imposed from outside. No successful war in Iraq can possibly stop the deepening divide of mistrust in our world of today.

A much tougher-than-expected foe, Hussein might well go underground, continue geurilla warfare, and add his Baath Party to the dozens of terror groups already out there. In fact, suicide bombing has already become an adjunct to war with an Iraqi said to have killed four American GIs according to Toppling Iraq could in fact add complexity to the terror question it was intended to contain. Iraqi nuclear scientists, who believe in jihad, may join the terrorist underground. This might happen even if Iraq proves to be essentially free of weapons of mass destruction.

The foregoing possibilities do not bode well for peace in our times.

24 Mar 2003 -- "...can we count on the people who lead us to tell us the truth about their motives? The shifting rationales offered for launching this war have come across as the spiel of a salesman..."
William Raspberry

22 Mar 2003 -- Historically, one people's opportunity often was coupled to another people's tragedy. How can we create instead a win-win situation?
Inspired by Bill Keller

19 Mar 2003 -- Given that the Qur'an has for some 1300 years specified all that is necessary for a Muslim's well-being, both physically and spiritually, and has allowed no self-determination to women, how can anyone expect democracy to come like dominos to Iraq any time soon, much less to the Middle East?

11 Mar 2003 -- What will become of the land once called Babylon? Mr. Bush has defined his journey for all to see: from Jack Daniels to Jesus, his migration was from reveler to revealer of his view for the world. Bin Laden could not have come along at a more perfect time to start a religious war. To be sure bin Laden declared it. Just as surely Bush is invoking it in what he sees as God's will. Shades of Mohammed!

A better question for the American electorate might be: What will become of the US now that its foreign and domestic policies have been co-opted by the religious right with power to got to war and nominate judges for life? Is Iraq just one salvo?

10 Mar 2003 -- Does Mr. Bush really intend to destroy the UN? His actions and his words appear as if he does.
Why is Mr. Bush behaving like a bully? Because he Can?

Why is Mr. Bush justifying war in Iraq on the basis of an unproved connection with Al Qa'ida while ignoring an openly proclaimed case of nuclear terror in North Korea?

Someone said: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Are we seeing a living example?

9 Mar 2003 -- "The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security."

"…Loyalty should be reciprocal. Why does our president condone the swaggering and contemptuous approach to our friends and allies this administration is fostering, including among its most senior officials. Has "oderint dum metuant" [let them hate us as long as they fear us] really become our motto?"
John Brady Kiesling.

US Foreign Service officer, John Brady Kiesling was a twenty year veteran diplomat with US embassy postings in Tel Aviv, Casablanca, and Yerevan in his resume.

[Is "Oderint dum metuant " a modern Caesar talking?]

9 Mar 2003 -- Knowing its history of extreme violence, is there any way to justify keeping the Iraqi dictatorship, or any dictatorship, in power?

8 Mar 2003 -- General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "People are going to die. As hard as we try to limit civilian casualties, it will occur. We need to condition people that that is war."
Dennis Nurkse asks: "Why should we be conditioned? What right do we have to kill a single civilian while our enemy is publicly disarming, under international supervision?"
NY Times 6 Mar 2003.

7 Mar 2003 -- Is there any evidence that US-led action would lead to an improvement for the people of Iraq? The record from recent "humanitarian" US military interventions in Somalia, Haiti and Kosovo - much smaller countries and less complex situations than Iraq - suggests Afghanistan's dismal experience is the norm, not the exception.
Ali Abunimah


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