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spikegifted - Random thoughts

 

Why WAR on IRAQ???

March 12, 2003

In general, I don't tend to engage in political arguments. My view is that we live in a free society and people are entitle to their thoughts and feelings and who am I to comment on people’s views on events? However, yesterday’s comments by the US SecDef is just a little too hard to stomach.

First of all, let me state that I’m not ‘anti-US’. I never have and I don’t think I ever will. There, I said it!

Ok, back to the topic. Situated, as I do, over here in the UK, I have been watching recent (past 6 months) US activities with dismay.

IMO, the US administration is hell-bent on war with Iraq, come what may. No diplomacy, no negotiation, no amount of persuasion, no demonstration of domestic nor international opinion against an armed conflict can prevent the US from ‘executing’ this latest operation of ‘projecting US power and influence’.

But why?

- Re-election? This is not an election year and victory this year would not guarantee re-election next year (as George, Snr. found out back in 1992).

- Is Saddam such a threat to US security? Well, not really. Their most powerful missile is like a pea-shooter. It barely gets to the Israeli boarder.

- Is Iraq still a threat to ‘US interests’ in the region (read: oil producing states)? No. Since being repulsed from Kuwait in 1991, the Iraqi army is now a shadow of its former self. Back in 1990/91, even though the Iraqi army was large numerically, it lacked quality in training, quality in its equipment and quality in leadership. However, the current version of the Iraqi army is quite small and what equipment it did have back in 1991 is now obsolete (while nearly every neighboring country has expanded and upgraded its arms – supplied by the US, of course.)

- Is there direct links between the Iraqi leadership/regime and ObL? No. But then again, it really depends on how far can your imagination be stretched. To put it yet another way, if manned space flight is possible, there isn’t much else you can say it’s not.

- Are the Kurds and Shi’a Muslim being oppressed and US help is needed to ‘free’ these people? Let me put it to you this way: What is the US doing to help those oppressed Palestinians victimized (not just being shot at by superior armed forces, but also economically and socially) by the brutal Jewish nationalist regime of the State of Israel? (Oh, I forgot, they’re the *bad* guys…) Yeah, right, this is an ‘internal affair’… much like the Russians in Chechnya… or Chinese in Tibet… And Russia is still the US’ best buddy, China is still the country’s ‘Most Favored Trading Partner’ and Israel is still the most reliable ally in the region. Of course.

IMO, as far as the current US administration is concern, the UN is a waste of time and an inconvenience. I would think the same way too – ‘Look, guys! Don’t you see it? We’re going to kick his ass, come what may. So, why don’t you just be nice, give us the mandate to kick ass and we’ll just get on with the job.’ But, guess what, not everyone have to think in the way the American administration like them to. This is a free world, afterall.

What hurts even more (as someone who has no ill-feelings towards individual American) is some of the insult being thrown at the French. I’ve one advise for you: If it wasn’t the help from the French, you’d still be ruled by a bunch of monkeys in the Houses of Parliament and a bunch of bureaucrats in Whitehall, London. How can you guys be so ignorant? And don’t give me that BS about rescuing Europe twice in the two World Wars. If you guys were still being ruled by the Brits, you’d be dragged in anyway, just ask the Australians, the Canadians, the Indians, the New Zealanders, etc.

What the SecDef said yesterday amounted to ‘we don’t need anybody’s help, we can get this done all by ourselves; you folks just sit back and enjoy the show’. That may be the case, but excuse you, you’re about to order your troops to invade a sovereign state!!

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Sept 11 was the direct result of the US imposing its foreign policies on states which are culturally, religiously and politically different from a typical Western country and would not accept the ‘rules’ from the US unquestioningly. The current threat of terrorism on the US is again the direct result of US foreign policies and the threat on US allies are directly due to the support given by these countries to those policies. (thank you very much!!)

If the US administration want to bomb the living daylight out of Iraq and get rid of Saddam, come what may:
don’t bother with the UN;
don’t split NATO;
don’t drag other countries who’d prefer to remain uninvolved, don’t threaten them by withdrawing aid, trade, or whatever, you’re just planting the seed for the next terrorist state;
don’t even bother to show us the evidence of WMD, since you don’t believe the weapons inspectors are going to do their jobs

IMHO, sometimes, it would be wise to listen to what other people has to say.

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March 13, 2003

I watched a good part of the PC and most of the Q&A. However, it is not the actual words being used that was important, but the 'under-current' in the PC and answers in the Q&A that really alarmed me. On the surface, the SecDef was giving the UK and the PM a way out a very sticky situation - no UN mandate to strike against Iraq. Whoops! Sorry, folks. Game over. The PM has repeatedly said that the UK will not take part in any military action against Iraq without a UN mandate. All the current indications are pointing towards either the US/UK/Spain/Bulgaria losing to France/Germany/Russia/China/the rest of the world in a Security Council vote for a new resolution or even if the US/UK alliance manage to obtain a slim majority, the resolution will be vetoed by France/Russia/China. So, bye bye mandate. The SecDef is giving an option to the PM to save face (and possibly his political career!).

While this is what the SecDef's words literal implied, when you read between the lines and this is my *personal* read of the situation (which happened to be echoed by some commentators) is that "You folks can act like a bunch of pu55ies, but we, Americans, will do like we've said all along - war." If you can show me another meaning, I look forward to hearing your take on this.

Do I think the PM is committed? Hell, yeah, he is! He is so committed that he's pretty much stake his prime-ministership on the outcome of this war-of-words/arms conflict.

If the US/UK alliance does not gain UN mandate to strike against Iraq, and the US administration will simply get on with it and get the job done (I've very little doubt about that). However, the UK will have to make a very tough decision - does she want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the US and deploy its arm forces against Iraq without the backing of a 2nd UN resolution? or will she walk away from the US and cheerlead from the sideline?

I think if there was better support for war in the UK, in the Parliament and in the Labor party, the PM will go to war even without the UN's blessing. Now, I'm guessing that the PM's calculation is that any war with Iraq with be short and victorious for the US/UK forces, so by the time people start complaining about the morality of the conflict, it'll be all over and the PM can turn round and say 'We did what we have to do and now it is done and so there's no point arguing about it'. Thanks for coming.

However, the situation is very different from the above scenario. There's a lot of doubt in the UK public about the necessity for war against Iraq, not to mention within the Labor party and the government itself. If the PM decided walk away from the US in the event of not obtaining the necessary UN mandate - the PM will lose all credibility in international politics, but probably still survive in the domestic scene. However the picture at home isn't that pretty either (go to one of the UK newspaper websites and check out some of UK's domestic problems and you'll see what I mean).

On the other hand, if he persists and goes to against the Iraqis with the US, he would've gone back on his promise to the Brits, he would lose all the trust of the Labor party and the British public and his political career will be over.

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March 19, 2003

Dude, I'm so glad that there are very few Americans who are as ignorant as you're. It would appear that talking to you is worse than talking to a brick wall - at least talking to a brick wall would not result in being labeled as 'anti-American' or having bits of facts being twisted and thrown back...

Israel (the country which carried out a pre-emptive strike against Iraq back in the late 1980's without any international mandate and knocked out the country's nuclear power station) has more WMD than N. Korea - it is the sixth largest nuclear power and has tactical and strategic strike capability. It has a large collection of some of the nastiest biological and chemical weapons outside the US. To add to that, Israel carried out a series of deception operations when it was inspected by the US (and quite proud of deceiving the weapons inspectors) and has repeatedly refused weapons inspection by the US or the UN since the early 1970's.

Israel (the country where this poor 23-year old girl was protesting against the human rights abuse subjected to the Palestinians) has one of the worst record of human abuse in the world. It has a secret police that makes a combined CIA+FBI+NSA+DEA looks like a bunch of kinder-garden kids.

Israel (the country which has carried more territorial violation against the Palestinians, since the establishment of the Palestinian controlled areas, than most people can count) has been in violation of UN resolution since 1960's (UN Resolution number two hundred and sixty something... I can't remember)

Israel (the country which is partied to the Camp David Agreement between itself and the Arab world) has carried out a deliberate and systematic economic and social isolation of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian 'state' since the Agreement came into force.

If you apply the same criteria that President Bush has applied to give the US/UK alliance a mandate to invade Iraq (and possibly a future intervention in N. Korea), Israel should be in that list too! Israel is allow to carry on as it does purely because the US choose to ignore these violations.

What is 'America' and what is being 'American'?

Aside from the nation states that combine to form the U. S. of A.; aside from being the foremost military power in the world; aside from being the largest economy and the richest country in the world - it is an idea and an ideal. It was founded on and stands for the basic premises of freedom, liberty and justice. As far as I am concern, being 'American' is to rise and stand up against the very things that threaten freedom, liberty and justice (apparently, the very same things why the US and the UK are now at war with Iraq...)

This 23-year old American woman was performing the very task that every 'American' should be doing - helping others who are being denied freedom, liberty and justice and she paid the ultimate price for the help she was providing for a people who are being ignored by the rest of the world - including the country of her birth and one which should be standing up the Israeli tyranny against the Palestinian.

She was being as 'American' as anyone can be. And you call her 'un-American'.

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April 16, 2003

So now that the fighting is over, where are those weapons of mass desstruction? The current US administration has upset quite a large proportion of the world - including the Chinese, Russians, French and Germans - and has strong arm its way passed the United Nation, with the argument that Iraq and the regime of Saddam Hussien process WMD. As the US and UK military forces have taken effective control of the country - SHOW US THOSE WMD!!

Or is that whole show forcing a 'regime change' and show-boating the US's diplomatic (huh!) and military power?

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April 18, 2003

Plane-spotting...

This is what people called culture! And guess what - security is a cultural thing. Everyone, and I will include government, companies, military organisation, and what not, has what is considered 'personal space'. In some countries, pointing cameras at some military jets sitting on tarmacs of military airports or when they're talking off or landing is considered a fair deal. Well, I guess the Greeks have a different level of sensitivity to this kind of behavior. In one culture this is called 'keen interest' while another calls it 'spying'...

To be fair, why should anyone be so interested in military jets? If you want photos, you can get them from lots of places. So, their presence at very close proximity to a military site is a clear indication that they're after information that is not publicly available. Logically, this led to the believe that they were 'spying'.

Nobody can expect others to simply accept your way of thinking or doing things, just because 'it's ok' in your culture. Guess what - Greeks don't understanding 'plane-spotting' (nor do many other countries/cultures, like the Bulgarians and Romanians, who practically threw these guys out of their countries).

Respect others' attitudes and sensitivities will save a lot of embarrassment and pain later.

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April 18, 2003

Hey, don't get me wrong, I'm interested in aircrafts - both civilian and military. However, I don't go half way round a continent and hang out some military air base and taking photos of that country's military planes with telephoto lens and use camcorders to record planes taking off and landing on the base.

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August 19, 2003

The only problem is that with the kind of enemy the world is facing, it is very difficult to utilize the massive strike capabilities of said weaponry, unless someone feels it's ok to go and wipe out an entire town or city to hunt down one of two of the enemy...

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August 19, 2003

Off topic:

Has anyone been following the inquiry into the death (apparent suicide) of the British weapons inspector? Looks like the folks in the government have 'dressed up' (the journalistic word is 'sexed up') the WDM dossier...

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August 21, 2003

For those who are interested, here's something from The Times on the Hutton Inquiry:

quote:
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The second Downing Street message disclosed at the inquiry yesterday was from Mr Powell to Mr Scarlett, with copies to Mr Campbell and Sir David Manning, who was then the Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser. This e-mail was sent on September 17, just seven days before the dossier was published and within the timeframe to match BBC claims that the dossier was “sexed up” in the final week. “The dossier,” Mr Powell says, “is good and convincing for those who are prepared to be convinced. (But it) does nothing to demonstrate a threat, let alone an imminent threat from Saddam. We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat.”
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quote:
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The language in the final version on September 24, was stronger, saying: “The Iraqi military are able to deploy chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes of an order to do so.” Mr Miller has told the inquiry that such changes were agreed within the intelligence community before publication.
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Full version here

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January 30, 2004

quote:
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You could argue the cost to American in dollars, or you could argue the cost in life to the US (and our allies). And my response is simple, the same it was 6 months ago, and a year ago before that. What would be the cost of not doing anything? How many people would die when Sadam stages an attack on the US? How many more people in Israel would die because of the Suicide bombers he was funding? What would be the cost to the World if Sadam did a single attack that matches the scale of 9/11? What would the cost to the world be if he did a bigger attack? What if he succeeded in getting an atomic device from the former USSR? What if he just used an old diesel sub from the former USSR and launched a normal attack on the world? What about a Chemical attack by the same method? The war has started hell the war is just about over, and now this and all other arguments are a waste of band width.
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I don't want to show any dis-respect to those who lost their lives due to those terrible events couple of years ago, however, linking Saddam and terrorism is just one step too far.

I think it can be said with a reasonable degree of confidence that September 11th was the combination of several things: excellent planning on the parts of the terrorists, poor security in US domestic air travel and poor intelligence gathering (or ignoring good intelligence). If anyone of these components was not there, those terrible events could not and would not have happened.

Saddam is not a terrorist and terrorism is not a thing he knows or does. That's not his style. He and his regime have largely a nationalistic/ethnic-centric focus. His rule has been a show of apparent strength. No more, no less. To take it otherwise is simply a case buying into the propaganda for war.

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January 30, 2004

dagamore:

I've said this before and I'll say it again, I don't (and I don't like people who) take others messages line-by-line. As far as I'm concern (and you may not agree with this) a sentence, read out of context, can be completely misinterpreted. (I'm not even going to quote your reply as .)

By saying that I show disrespect to the victims of 9/11 or another victims of terrorism, just by reading the above statement and assuming such a case, I think you're making a mistake. Please don't assume.

In your original message that I quoted, you questioned "How many people would die when Saddam stages an attack on the US? What would be the cost to the World if Saddam did a single attack that matches the scale of 9/11? What would the cost to the world be if he did a bigger attack?" That is an interesting 'thought experiment'. Saddam had, as far as I know, never threatened to strike at the US or other Western country. He, on the other hand, had threatened to strike against those who come to conflict with him in his own backyard - Iraq. The terrorist problem we're seeing post-Saddam is not linked to his regime when he was in power. The terrorism we're witnessing is due the inadequate security arrangements of the invading armed forces. The continual suffering of the Iraqis (in emotional, economic and physical forms), which is one of the justification for war for the US administration, is a failure of the 'liberators'.

Regarding your claim that Saddam funded terrorist activities, I'm assuming that you're referring to another claim made by the US administration prior to the war that, as things turned out, has little or no evidence of - much like the claim of Saddam possessing WMD.

You're trying to confuse me with the concepts of oppression/repressing and terrorism. What Saddam did to the Kurds was called oppression or, if you prefer, repression. It is a form of domination, tyranny, authoritarianism, etc. It was blatant, it was cruel and it was horrible. There’s no justification for such action, but it is not terrorism. You can’t play these word games with me. If you choose to apply a certain word to certain events, you need to justify the reasoning. There’s no reason to apply the word ‘terrorism’ to acts of oppression, aside from the fact that it is ‘current’ and it will receive attention. It is the same as calling Stalin a ‘terrorist’. Get real.

Your answers and your assertions show clear evidence of buying into the pre-war propaganda from the US administration. The lack of evidence of WMD is so overwhelming that Condoleezza Rice is acknowledging pre-war intelligence was ‘possibly’ flawed. If elimination these missing WMDs were one of the prime reasons for the invasion, I’m questioning the other ‘prime reasons’ for the invasion and I’m also questioning other reasons that are not disclosed to the world outside the administration.

In your sweeping statement regarding Saddam and the Baath Party, I feel that I need to inform you of your inaccuracy. The Baath Party’s ideology is pan-Arab, secular nationalism. I originated in Syria and it spread to Iraq in the 1950s. The nearest political ideology that can be compared with in the Western world is Nazism.

Sometimes your views and information are rather interesting and/or educational and I enjoy crossing swords with you, but don’t assume that I’d take your ‘evidence’ lying down.

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April 25, 2004

I know I'm going to be accused by some that I'm reviving an old thread at sensitive time. For what is worth, I'm sorry. I, along with many other, have had doubt towards the rationale behind invading Iraq and I found a column in The Times in the UK that is particularly good. Normally, it is not my style to quote an entire column or article in full. However, as I doubt it is worth your time to subscribe to the online version of the paper just to read this column, I've typed out the column in question in full (I get the printed version). Any typo or mistake is of course mine and Word's "Auto Correct".

quote:
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The White House wars speak volumes in every bookstore in America
Simon Jenkins, Comments
The Times, April 23, 2004. 

Never underestimate the power of a book. This week the veteran Watergate reporter, Bob Woodward, electrified the American presidential campaign with Plan of Attack, an intimate account of the run-up to last year’s invasion of Iraq. Within 24 hours of publication on Tuesday, a parade of top administration officials, including Colin Powell and Donald Rumsfeld, rushed out responses. The Democratic challenger John Kerry mentioned the book at least twice in every speech. No chat show was complete without a plug and two current congressional hearings on Iraq are awash with its revelations.  

The potency of Plan of Attack comes from the fact that Woodward not only interviewed George Bush himself but had him encourage his Cabinet colleagues to talk to him too. When Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld balked, Woodward blithely reminded them that “the President wants this”. Mr. Bush’s aides are even promoting the book as good for their boss’s image as a man of “prudence and resolve”. To all of them a book seemed safe, almost discreet. That medieval means of communication, black ink on dead trees, was still history’s most authentic vehicle.

Woodward’s thesis is that Mr. Bush was always determined to get rid of Saddam Hussein. The only questions were timing and presentation. Hence the “fevered” antics of the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, playing Rasputin to Mr. Bush’s ingénue tsar. Hence the massive distortion and pollution of intelligence in America and Britain. Hence the diversion of $700 million from Afghanistan to Iraq preparations without telling Congress. 

Hence the “refrigeration” of Colin Powell, to whom sections of the Pentagon were “the Gestapo”. Hence a deal with the Saudis to keep oil price high until just before November’s election. Hence the offer to Tony Blair to keep British troops out of Iraq, to shield him from his Labour foes. The story is of one long obsession overwhelming argument and reason in the highest reaches of power.  

I find such indiscretion amazing. It is as if the entire US Administration had forgotten their “victory” in toppling Saddam and were seeing nemesis scything towards them. They were desperate to rebut history in advance. They emerge as rivals feuding while their mission lies incomplete and soldiers are dying on the battlefield. Each participant has his script. War must now vindicate history, not history war.  

Woodward’s book is not alone. His account can be crosschecked with a groaning cliff of Iraq books at the door of every bookstore. Never can current affairs have claimed such public attention. Richard Clarke’s riveting Against All Enemies tells of Mr. Bush’s lack of interest in al-Qaeda before 9/11, and for a year afterwards. Mr. Bush’s former Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, also describes the Iraq obsession in The Price of Loyalty

President Nixon’s aide, John Dean, pitches in with a diatribe against the Bush cult of cabalism, Worse than Watergate. The fabrication of Iraqi weapons intelligence is related again and again in Hans Blix’s Disarming Iraq, in John Prados’s Hoodwinked: The Documents that Reveal How Bush Sold Us a War and The Politics of Truth by Joseph Wilson (of Niger uranium fame).  

The tales are jolted up a notch by Vanity Fair in what amounts to a 22,000-word “book within a magazine” on the shambolic countdown to war. Mr. Blair emerges as a pathetic figure, offering almost sycophantic support to Mr. Bush at each turn, only pleading for “the UN route” to appease his party dissenters. His claim, in the autumn of 2002, that there was “nothing decided” on Iraq cannot survive transcripts showing that he knew by July that “it’s a done deal”. His job was to cobble together enough hair-raising intelligence to get the Europeans in line. In this he failed, to Pentagon derision. 

The combined last of these books makes Britain’s Hutton inquiry look like a peashooter. Most illustrate our old friend, “cognitive dissonance”, the disease of leaders craving intelligence that supports their agenda and eventually getting it. CIA agents are ordered to “find” evidence of WMD or “lose your job”. Mobile labs, launcher trucks, aluminum tubes, anthrax phials and unmanned drones soon take on the iconic status of Watergate’s safes, tapes and break-ins. A dud invoice on some Niger yellowcake becomes proof that “he can nuke us in a year”. A smoking gun in one draft is a mushroom cloud in the next.  

British Intelligence goes wild. While the Pentagon was passing unassessed raw material to the White House from the dodgy Iraqi National Congress, MI6 was recklessly giving Downing Street raw material from the rival Iraqi National Accord. This was the source of Mr. Blair’s much-vaunted “45 minutes” claim, which appalled even the CIA. 

Had everything ran to plan none of this might matter. By now contented Iraqis were meant to be sitting outside the al-Rashid Hotel, toasting George Bush and Ariel Sharon in mint tea and reading The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Bush’s Cabinet colleagues were supposed to be panning victory memoirs, not appearing shaken before congressional committees, let alone plea bargaining with history via the likes of Mr. Woodward. We all know victory has a thousands fathers and defeat is an orphan. But rarely has defeat’s path to the orphanage been plotted before birth.  

In the event, it is Clarke’s book that is the most devastating. He is no dove and no liberal but the former White House chief of counter-terrorism. He may have something of a grudge but his message, that something went wrong the moment Mr. Bush came to office, seems incontrovertible. What should have been a concerted campaign against known al-Qaeda cells become a fixation with Iraq. Even after 9/11, Mr. Rumsfeld wanted to attack Iraq not Afghanistan. Iraq was “an idée fixe, a rigid belief, received wisdom, a decision already made”. When Woodward asked Mr. Bush if he had consulted his father, he was told no, the President referred to “a higher father”. Iraq was a holy war. 

Nor is all this passing without dissent on the Right. Mr. Bush is now running the greatest deficit in American history to pay for the war. One day this must be financed and painfully. Some conservatives are noticing. To them Saddam Hussein was an evil, but a budget deficit is an even bigger one. An editorial in the old conservative National Review even take the Washington neocons to task for naivety in thinking that they could “implant democracy in alien soil”. There are mutterings in conservative circles of the dangerous “neoliberalism” of Mr. Bush’s global ambitions.  

Mr. Bush has his supporters. In a subtle way they include Woodward himself, whose George Bush is often a sceptic, always careful, by no means one of the ranting Pentagon “Vulcans”. He can refer back to such neocon tracts as An End to Evil by Richard Perle and David Frum, and David Wurmser’s Tyranny’s Ally. But Mr. Bush may also find comfort from the “hawk liberalism” of Jimmy Carter’s former policy aide, Zbigniew Brzezinski. His latest book is The Choice: Global Domination or Global Leadership. This criticizes the Iraq adventure for its ineptitude but pleads for America to project its unrivalled power as a force for good. Brzezinski would not quarrel with the neocon demand of war as “a forward strategy for freedom”. 

In other words, the wreckage of traditions, alliances, assumptions and conventions that is George Bush’s radical foreign policy is not going undiscussed. The bull may be crashing about the china shop, but Americans are meticulously plotting its path. This is democracy at work. Nothing is left to secrecy. Everyone talks. Public policy is for public debate. And it is debated in the most decorous of mediums, the book.  

Back home, Britons characteristically wait in dutiful silence. Lord Butler of Brockwell is considering what they should be told of the war in which their soldiers are dying, when he is ready. I cannot imagine what his lordship will find what is not already stacked sky high in Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue. 


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