A tsunami survivor: the emotional and financial aftershocks will last for a long time. How long the international community and the public will remain focused is a different matter.
THE REAL COSTS HAVEN'T HIT YET
"These communities are dependent on the ability to fish, to trade by boat and to travel by boat," says Randall Kramer, a Duke University professor who has conducted house-to-house socioeconomic surveys in Indonesian coastal communities, similar to those decimated in northern Sumatra. "These villagers have very low incomes to begin with, and without their boats - their major source of income - recovery will be especially slow..." (Emad Meker, Asia Times, January 5, 2005)
THE WORLD BANK'S JAMES WOLFENSOHN SEES A LONG, PAINFUL RECOVERY
"...You need to reconnect water, " says Wolfensohn. "You need to reconnect power, you need roads, you need bridges, and that has to be done urgently... then the World Bank and the other agencies come in to work under the leadership of the governments, to make sure that the locality is reconstructed both physically and emotionally." (James Wolfensohn, ABC This Week, January 2, 2005)
TSUNAMI PATTERN RECOGNITION
Major earthquakes occur somewhere in the world every year or two. Catastrophic tsunamis - giant waves generated by undersea earthquakes or landslides - strike less often, and some of the largest of tsunamis originate in places that do not, at first glance, appear particularly treacherous...
(Kenneth Chang, NY Times, January 4, 2005)
IS A TSUNAMI A REFLECTION OF GOD'S WILL, OR SOMETHING ELSE?
On Nov. 1, 1755, a great earthquake struck offshore of Lisbon. In that city alone, some 60,000 perished, first from the tremors, then from the massive tsunami that arrived half an hour later. Fires consumed much of what remained of the city. The tidal waves spread death along the coasts of Iberia and North Africa.
Voltaire's "Poëme sur le désastre de Lisbonne" of the following year was an exquisitely savage--though sober--assault upon the theodicies prevalent in his time... (David Hart, Wall Street Journal Opinion, December 31, 2004)
CRIMINALS TARGET TSUNAMI VICTIMS
One of the most disturbing allegations is that criminal gangs are befriending children orphaned by the tsunami, and selling them to sex traffickers.
(BBC, January 4, 2005)
While the tsunami dominated headlines situations deteriorated in six countries in December 2004 according to January's Crisis Watch bulletin. Violence surged in Iraq, and fighting between Maoists and the military escalated across Nepal. The situations in Ecuador, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan and Zimbabwe also worsened.
In Sudan, the long-awaited signing on 31 December in Naivasha of a final peace accord between the government and Southern SPLA rebels was offset by deteriorating security in Darfur. (ICG, January 1, 2005)
ANOTHER MURDER IN THE WORLD'S MOST DANGEROUS CITY
The murder of Baghdad's Governor along with six of his bodyguards, is only the latest incident in a torrent of assassinations intended to underscore the inability of U.S. troops to provide adequate protection. The Shiites, backed by Iran, are adamant about going ahead with the elections which will effectively certify their political control of the country. If the Shiites do win, there is no guarantee that anyone will be able to protect members of the new government, or forestall the civil war that seems certain to follow.The PBS NewsHour's Gwen Ifill gets analysis from Fouad Ajami,The RAND Corporation's James Dobbins and former Defense Intelligence Agency director for the Middle East, Colonel W.Patrick Lang,(January 4, 2005)
THE STRENGTHENING IRAQI INSURGENCY
As U.S. casualties in Iraq steadily mount, it is becoming increasingly clear that major strategic errors were committed at the policy level in the Pentagon. Anthony Cordesman points out in a late-breaking assessment that self-delusion and a refusal to recognize the true dimensions of Iraq's insurgency played a critical role in ensnaring U.S. forces in a new quagmire. "The US minimized the insurgent and criminal threat and exaggerated the popular support for US and Coalition efforts. Polls as early as the summer of 2003 showed that at least one-third of Arab Sunnis while over 15% of Shi'ites supported attacks on Coalition forces. The numbers may now be substantially higher. The US assumed for the first year after the fall of Saddam Hussein that it was dealing with a limited number of insurgents that Coalition forces would defeat well before the election. It did not see the threat level that would emerge if it did not provide jobs or pensions for Iraqi career officers, or co-opt them into the nation building effort. It was slow to see that some form of transition payments were necessary for the young Iraqi soldiers that faced massive, nation-wide employment. As late as the spring of 2004, the US still failed to acknowledge the true scale of the insurgent threat and the extent to which popular resentment of Coalition forces would rise if it did not act immediately to rebuild a convincing mix of Iraqi military and security forces...." ( Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, December 22, 2004)
MICHAEL O'HANLON: IRAQ WITHOUT A PLAN
In Policy Review, Michael O'Hanlon writes:" The post-invasion phase of the Iraq mission has been the least well-planned American military mission since Somalia in 1993, if not Lebanon in 1983, and its consequences for the nation have been far worse than any set of military mistakes since Vietnam. The U.S. armed forces simply were not prepared for the core task that the United States needed to perform when it destroyed Iraq's existing government--to provide security, always the first responsibility of any sovereign government or occupier..." (Michael O'Hanlon, Policy Review, January 2005)
THE MUSLIM WORLD AFTER 9/11
The U.S. can avoid the trap of polarizing the Muslim world into an extremist opposition if it learns to tell the difference between extremists and moderates and helps the latter. The RAND organization provides a detailed guide to recent developments.(RAND, December 15, 2004)
HOMELAND SECURITY 2.0--RETHINKING THE WHOLE IDEA
James Carafano and David Heyman propose a complete reorganization of the entire organization. (CSIS, December 13, 2004)
IS THIS PAINFUL ENOUGH ?
Alberto Gonzales: the President's choice for Attorney General offered controversial interpretations of torture and the Geneva Convention.
TAKING TORTUREGATE HEAD-ON
Both President Bush's nominee for Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, and the president's latest nominee for a federal appellate judgeship helped write controversial memos concerning torture of U.S. detainees. Gonzales is about to begin confirmation hearings which will need to look into recent FBI documents indicating that the U.S. has, in fact, engaged in what most people would consider to be torture. Sticking lighted cigarettes in a bound prisoner's ears is just one example. A chastened and largely impotent Democratic minority seems ready to go along with Gonzales' nomination, but the nomination of Pentagon counsel, Jim Haynes, to a federal appellate judgeship may have crossed the line. Former White House Counsel, John W. Dean, suggests that Haynes's nomination may, in fact, be an ingenious strategy intended to test Democrats, who filibustered seven previous Bush nominations. If the Democrats try a filibuster again, the Republicans could use what has become known as the "nuclear option"--using their majority to change the rules and limit filibustering for nominations altogether. That would clear the way for a flood of other questionable nominations, and eventually for Gonzales, who is a close personal friend of the President, to seek a seat on the Supreme Court. (John Dean, FindLaw.com, December 31, 2004)
FBI Memos concerning mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo (ACLU-Freedom of Information Act)
U.S. troops "softening up" non-prisoners of war at Guantanamo
NEW YORK TIMES: ON GONZALES AND THE SLIPPERY DEFINITION OF WHAT CONSTITUTES TORTURE
The request by Mr. Gonzales produced the much-debated Justice Department memorandum of Aug. 1, 2002, which defined torture narrowly and said that Mr. Bush could circumvent domestic and international prohibitions against torture in the name of national security.
Until now, administration officials have been unwilling to provide details about the role Mr. Gonzales had in the production of the memorandum by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Gonzales has spoken of the memorandum as a response to questions, without saying that most of the questions were his.
(New York Times, January 4, 2005)
The Times' guide to the memos...
LACKING SUFFICIENT EVIDENCE FOR TRIALS, PRESIDENT BUSH NOW WANTS TO HOLD HUNDREDS OF C.I.A. AND PENTAGON DETAINEES INDEFINITELY AT GUANTANAMO, EFFECTIVELY BYPASSING THE U.S. JUSTICE SYSTEM
Administration officials are preparing long-range plans for indefinitely imprisoning suspected terrorists whom they do not want to set free or turn over to courts in the United States or other countries, according to intelligence, defense and diplomatic officials.
The Pentagon and the CIA have asked the White House to decide on a more permanent approach for potentially lifetime detentions, including for hundreds of people now in military and CIA custody whom the government does not have enough evidence to charge in courts. The outcome of the review, which also involves the State Department, would also affect those expected to be captured in the course of future counterterrorism operations. (Dana Priest, Washington Post, January 3, 2005)
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