Isenberg's critique of Homeland Security and recommendations for improvements
[click on image to go to the executive summary]
SEARCH FOR A NUCLEAR WEAPON FOR LIMITED CONFLICTS
Bromley and David Grahame report on the Pentagon's search for a nuclear
FUTURE OF NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL
an interactive assessment
of nuclear disarmament after the Moscow Summit,
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THE RUSSIANS SEE AMERICAS CHANCES IN IRAQ
internal report currently circulating through various committees of Russias
legislature, the Duma, envisions three scenarios for a U.S.-led invasion
of Iraq. An optimistic first scenario envisions suppression of Iraqs
air defenses and command and control centers is a given. A land-based
attack would involve three heavy divisions moving into Iraq from Kuwait,
and would probably last four to six weeks. A second, more ominous, scenario
predicts a pitched battle stretching out for 6 to 12 weeks after the U.S.
encounters unexpectedly heavy resistance from Iraqi forces. A third. Worst
case, scenario, forecasts a war that could last up to six months, involves
heavy street fighting in Iraqs cities, attacks across the border
into Turkey, the destruction of oil fields and the use of weapons of mass
destruction against Israel. The Russians give the most optimistic scenario
a 40-60% probability. The most pessimistic scenario gets a 10% probability
BBC monitoring of Interfax-AVN military news agency web site, Moscow
Center for Defense Information, January 3, 2003
MUCH WILL IT COST?
most terrifying part of extending the War Against Terror into Iraq may
be the price tag. Forget about the fact that an invasion is likely to
cost U.S. tax payers $100 billion or more and that in contrast to Desert
Storm in which most of the cost was born by Arab allies, Washington will
now be going it alone financially. The Center for Economic and Policy
Researchs Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot have just completed a detailed
study of what is likely to happen if the War in Iraq goes wrong. Among
their predictions: a loss of 1.6 million jobs in an economy reeling from
a new oil crisis. An increased security threat from terrorism resulting
from the war would slow the U.S. economy by 0.1% of GDP, and the economy
will be further battered by third world boycotts of American goods. The
slowdown resulting from energy that could reach $75 for a barrel of oil
in a worst-case scenario would be roughly equivalent to the high end predictions
of what might happen if the U.S. were to abide by the Kyoto protocol.
Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot, The Center for Economic and Policy Research,
January 9, 2003.
and Weisbrot based much of their analysis on a
study by Yale's William Nordhaus. Nordhaus' analysis of
the potential cost of war with Iraq is available in pdf format from the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
GOES AHEAD WITH ITS CONFERENCE ON THE MIDDLE EAST DESPITE SHARONS
TRAVEL BAN ON PALESTINIANS
Israeli governments refusal to let Palestinian delegates go to London
for a conference on the Middle East turned out to be only a minor stumbling
block thanks to modern electronics. The latest travel ban was retaliation
for a suicide bomb which killed 23 people and wounded nearly 100. Five
out of six Palestinian ministers nevertheless managed to express their
views via a video conference link from Ramallah (the sixth, Nabil Shath,
was unable to travel from Gaza to Ramallah). The U.S. kept a low profile
at the conference. Britains prime minister Tony Blair was determined
to go ahead despite Israeli objections. The initiative is regarded as
an important gesture to Arab sympathies if Britain is to throw its support
behind the U.S. in an invasion of Iraq.
Economist January 14, 2003
AMERICA DECIDED THAT TORTURE IS A NECESSARY EVIL WHEN IT COMES TO HOMELAND
Economist notes that news is beginning to flow in alleging incidents of
American intelligence agencies torturing terrorist suspects, or simply
turning them over to less scrupulous Middle Eastern governments to do
the job for them. There is always the argument that a quick spot of torture
may produce timely information to stop an impending terrorist attack,
but the systematic use of torture, the Economist warns, would be an ominous
reversal of previous American policy. The magazine points out in a special
section on the subject that past attempts to use torture sparingly have
quickly led to widespread abuse.
The Economist, January 11, 2003
DEFENSE WILL NOT BE CHEAP
worried that the administrations proposed $600 billion corporate
dividend interest tax write off will swell the national debt should take
a new look at the Bush administrations anti-ballistic missile defense
program. The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation predicts that
swelling costs are likely to boost the unproven systems final price
tag to between $800 million and $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years.
Those figures are considerably higher than the ones put forward by Bushs
defense team, but the Center points out that until now estimates of the
programs costs have concentrated on development and acquisition,
but have largely ignored long-term operations and maintenance costs. The
Centers 120-page report, issued January 3,2003 is the first publicly
available study that takes into account all aspects of the system.
Center for Economic and Policy Research, January 3, 2003
IS THE MOST GLOBALIZED COUNTRY?
about Ireland? Dublin beats everyone else out for the second year in a
row, with Switzerland a close second. A. T. Kearney and Foreign Policys
current interactive chart on who is really globalized is full of surprises.
The United States is ranked 11th place out of 62 countries for overall
globalism, first place for technology, but only 31st place when it comes
to international tourism. That is just slightly better than the Ukraine.
Towards the bottom of the list: Saudi Arabia, Peru, Brazil and India.
At the absolute bottom for globalization: Iran.
DOES SOME AGONIZING SOUL SEARCHING OVER THE PROSPECT OF A LADY JUDGE
the end of the month, Tahani El-Gebali, 52, could become the first female
sitting judge in modern Egyptian historyif she is able to surmount
the growing wave of criticism from traditional Islamic institutions. Egypts
Constitution guarantees the equality of the sexes. But Sharia law sees
things differently. Three of the four principal schools of Sunni jurisprudence
are against allowing a woman to serve as a judge. The fourth, the Hanafi
school, allows women to serve as judges only in cases that involve affairs
in which women are allowed to testify, namely the family and financial
matters. Ahmed Taha Rayyan, former dean of Al Azhars School of Sharia
and Law explains that: "Justice requires patience and sturdiness,
which women lack."
Amina Elbedery explores the debate in this weeks Al Ahram Weekly.
FUTURE OF THE PERSIAN GULF
latest RAND study predicts a tough course ahead for United States interests
in the Persian Gulf, despite some positive signs of improvement. RANDs
advice: focus less on conventional military threats and take a closer
look at weapons of mass destruction and the negative impact of domestic
unrest in a number of Gulf countries. Objections to U.S. military presence
on Arab land remains an important factor.
FACES AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
played a critical role in NATO during much of the Cold War, acting as
a bulwark against Soviet influence in the Mediterranean. These days, Turkey
is under growing pressure to assume responsibility in the Islamic world.
If a war is launched against Iraq, Turkeys strategic importance
will be enormous. In a full-length downloadable book, RAND analyzes Turkeys
shifting foreign policy objectives in a world in which its own position
is far from certain.
RAND January 2003.
history of violence in Yemen dates from well before 9/11, yet it is questionable
whether Al Qaeda has significant influence there. While Yemen has been
a good ally of the U.S. until now, the government is fragile. The U.S.
has to act carefully to avoid counterproductive results.
By the International Crisis Group, January 8, 2003
COLONEL ESCAPES CHECHEN MURDER CHARGE ON GROUNDS OF INSANITY
March 26, 2000, a Russian army colonel, Yuri Budanov, and a group of soldiers
arrived in an armored personnel carrier at the house of the Kungayev family
in the Chechen village of Tangi-Chu. The only person at home was 18-year
old, Kheda Kungayev who was living at home with her parents. With no one
else to arrest, the Russians took her back to their base.
Later that evening, Budanov summoned his soldiers and ordered them to
bury the girl's dead body in woodland. Budanov was in his underwear. The
dead girls clothes had been slashed with a knife. A medical examination
later determined that she had been raped and strangled. What made the
case unusual was the fact that Budanov was actually arrested and made
to stand trial for an offense that most Chechens regard as more or less
ordinary behavior for the occupying Russian Army. In a trial that lasted
most of last year, Russian authorities went to extraordinary limits to
find a pretext for releasing Budanov. Insanity seemed like the most likely
defense, and the Chechen seizure of a Moscow theater helped turn public
opinion against the Chechens.
By Yury Tumanov in Rostov-on-Don and Asiyat Vazayeva in Nazran, The Institute
for War & Peace reporting, January 9, 2003
TV provides a streaming video television report with pictures of Kheda
Kungaeva and her family (requires free RealAudio player).
Human Rights Watch backgrounder on the case
one doubts that Charlie Rangel is being provocative when he suggests that
the risks of combat in a democracy ought to be shared equally regardless
of economic class, i.e. in a universal draft that places the sons of the
wealthy in harm's way to the same extent as the sons of the poor. Since
so many hawks pushing for war with Iraq deftly sidestepped the risks of
combat when called on to serve during the Vietnam War, Mr. Rangels
suggestion has turned out to be every bit as embarrassing as it was intended
to be. In a counterpunch, the Pentagon called a press conference Monday
to tout the 30th of the "All Volunteer Army." Despite the cheer
leading, the question and answer nevertheless seemed to illustrate Mr.
Rangels point. Nearly a third of the U.S. force is now African American.
But the real issue is not race. It is economic. For most white recruits,
serving in the military means taking a steep cut in income compared to
what they could expect to make in civilian life. In contrast, African
American recruits can expect to earn far more in the military than their
counterparts in civilian life. The bottom line is that serving in the
U.S. Army is often a financial handicap for whites but an economic step
up for many African Americans. It is not hard to understand why roughly
30% of the U.S. Army is now African American, or why a higher percentage
stay in the military for more than one tour of duty. As for the sons of
families that earn $150,000 a year, the senior defense officer"
giving the briefing explained candidly that that is a different category.
The enlisted force, " he explained, "almost by definition,
is not going to come out of the ranks of people whose parents make each
$150,000 a year. Those people are where we would tend to recruit our officers
from." All that is fine in peacetime. In a war it means that the
risks of combat, and the price that is eventually paid to further American
ambitions, or at least those of the current administration in Washington,
are likely to be anything but democratic. On the other hand, the Pentagon
argues that basing the countrys defense on volunteers means that
no one is forced to serve against his will. The Pentagons briefing
on the subject makes for fascinating reading.
By "Senior Defense Official", Department of Defense, January
here to view the transcript of the briefing]
IN POINT: THE ELUSIVE WARRIOR
year was 1968, Vietnam was in flames over the Tet offensive and the siege
at Khe Sanh. Faced with the draft and a student deferment that is soon
ending, an aspiring pilotthe son of a future presidenttries
out for the U.S. Air Force but only manages to score in the 25% percentile
among candidates for pilot school. No problem. With the help of Texas
House speaker, the aspiring warrior manages to jump over a list of more
plebeian applicants for the Texas Air National Guard and wangles his way
into the Guards "champagne unit," so-called because it
is seeded with the sons of elite politicians and business moguls--none
of whom are anxious to face combat in Vietnam. By October 1973, the Guard
relieves the candidate from his service obligation eight months early
so that he can attend Harvard Business School.
Reported in Mother Jones, January 2003
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