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A U.S. soldier looks for supporters of Iraq's rebellious Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr
IRAQ'S PRIME MINISTER MAKES A RISKY BID TO ASSERT CONTROL
After failing to make a deal with Shiite dissident Moqtada al-Sadr, Iraq's interim prime minister, Iyad Allawi, launched a forceful attempt to annihilate Moqtada forces, relying heavily on U.S. troops to do the job. At the same time, Allawi announced that he is reinstating the death penalty, and his administration filed indictments against both Ahmed Chalabi, a one-time candidate for the prime minister's post, and Chalabi's nephew, who is supposed to organize the trial of Saddam Hussein. The Economist provides an over view of what is at stake. (Economist, August 5, 2004)
•The indictment against the Chalabi signals a split in the interim government
Allawi wants to put former Baathist officers back into power and he distrusts Iran. In contrast, Ahmed Chalabi wants a complete purge of the Baathists, and he is increasingly close to Iran. He is also a political competitor who once had the support of Washington neocons. Juan Cole explains the politics. (Juan Cole, Informed Comment, August 9, 2004)
•The Fighting coincides with the sudden illness of Iraq's leading moderate Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani
Christopher Allbritton, who strings for TIME, notes that al-Sistani's illness could usher in an explosive civil war for control of Iraq's Shiite majority. (Christopher Allbritton, Back-to-Baghdad, August 9, 2004)
•The View on the Ground
Baghdad blogger, River Bend,writes:"Of course, they are all being called 'insurgents'. The woman on tv wrapped in the abaya, lying sprawled in the middle of the street must have been one of them too... " (River Bend, "Girl Blog from Iraq," August 8, 2004)
An Iranian Missile that could reach Israel or U.S. bases in the Middle East
TARGETING IRAN'S NUKES
Britain's Daily Telegraph reports that the administration is now looking for covert ways of stopping Iran's progress towards developing a nuclear weapon. (David Rennie, the Daily Telegraph, August 8, 2004)
AN ISRAELI ATTACK AGAINST IRAN'S NUCLEAR SITES WOULD BE EXTREMELY COSTLY
Mahan Abedin, editor of the Jamestown Foundation's Terrorism Monitor, notes that although Israel has made threatening noises about Iran, actually knocking out Iran's nuclear facilities would be much harder than its strike against Iraq's Osirak reactor. Iran not only has formidable air defenses, but it is capable of retaliating directly at Israel through the Lebanon-based Hizbollah. (Mahan Abedin, in the Beirut Morning Star, August 9, 2004)
The ACLU charges that government security organizations are increasingly relying on private industry databases to profile ordinary citizens. Everyone knows that a credit card provides evidence of recent purchases, but it may also be providing information about lifestyles, vulnerabilities and habits. The ACLU argues in a 38-page report that private industry should pledge not to turn consumer information over to government officials unless it is legally mandated to do so. (ACLU, August 9, 2004)
DEMAND FOR OIL MAY NOW BE OUTSTRIPPING WORLDWIDE PRODUCTION CAPACITY
The longer range problem is that giant emerging economies in China, India and elsewhere are increasing demand, just as the major known fields face exhaustion. Adam Porter comments from Paris (Adam Porter, Al Jazeera, August 4, 2004)
•Iraq shuts down its oil production (Al Jazeera)
DRILLING FOR OIL IN THE CASPIAN SEA
The giant Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea may be the largest new source of oil since the North Sea, but geographic and political problems have slowed development. Julia Nanay, a leading analyst, explains why investors might want to proceed with caution. (Julia Nanay in Middle East Economic Survey, August 9, 2004)
FRANCIS FUKAYAMA STILL CONSIDERS HIMSELF A NEOCON--THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT HE AGREES WITH THE ADMINISTRATION
At a dinner hosted by the Nixon Center and the realist's review, In The National Interest, Dr. Fukayama insisted that he is still a neoconservative, but he feels that the Bush administration made three major errors in launching the war in Iraq: First, the embrace of social engineering as embodied in the whole process of exporting democracy, especially to the Middle East. Second, the lack of appreciation of the need for international legitimacy. Finally, taking an Israeli mindset about the Middle East and misapplying it to America’s role in the world. Fukayama's remarks are reported in the current issue of In The National Interest,(August 3, 2004) •Nicholas Gvosdev on what constitutes a neoconservative
CIVIL DEMOCRATIC ISLAM
The RAND organization's latest study provides detailed descriptions of Islamic subgroups, their stands on various issues, and what those stands may mean for the West. The entire book (87 pages) is downloadable for free in pdf format. (RAND, summer 2004)
THE U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE'S GUIDE TO NATIONAL SECURITY POLICY AND STRATEGY--JULY 2004
This is a series of essays by a variety of authors who provide comprehensive background on the critical issues that determine American foreign policy and national security strategy. (U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, 295 pages, downloadable in pdf format, July 2004)
WHEN MILITARY BASES SET FOREIGN POLICY
John Lindsay-Poland , writing in Foreign Policy in Focus, argues that U.S. military bases in Latin America represent tangible commitments to policies that are either outmoded, or openly expansionist. These bases are usually tied to U.S. strategic goals, whether securing oil supplies, or discouraging narcotics production. It would make more sense to operate through civilian organizations instead. (John Lindsay-Poland, FPIF, August 2004)
RUSSIA REVERSES ITSELF ON YUKOS AGAIN
By refusing to allow Yukos' oil producing subsidiary to have access to the funds needed to pay its tax debts, the government seems determined to destroy the major oil producer. There are suggestions that the government may be divided on how to proceed. In the meantime, the oil market has been thrown into chaos, and prices are climbing. (Guy Faulconbridge, in Moscow Times, August 10, 2004)
GEORGIA SAYS IT WILL NOT GIVE IN TO MOSCOW'S INTIMIDATION
Tensions are flaring again with Russia, and Georgia's dynamic president Mikheil Saakashvili says he won't give in to intimidation. Saakashvili made his declaration of independence during a visit to Washington on August 5, when he met with Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice.
•Saakashvili speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (downloadable in MP3 audio--48 minutes)
FEMALE SUICIDE BOMBERS
Debra Zedalis writes on the disturbing new phenomenon in the U.S. Army War College's Carlisle Papers in Security Strategy series: “From Jerusalem to Jakarta and from Bali to Baghdad, the suicide bomber is clearly the weapon of choice for international terrorists....In terms of casualties, suicide attacks are the most efficient form of terrorism. From 1980 to 2001, suicide attacks accounted for 3 percent of terrorist incidents but caused half of the total deaths due to terrorism... The success of suicide bombers considerably depends upon surprise and accessibility to targets. Both of these requirements have been met by using women..."(Debra Zedalis, U.S. Army War College, 24 pages in pdf , June 2004)
Charlie Chaplin in "Modern Times"--The U.S. works long hours, but is slipping in productivity
THE U.S. IS OVERTAKEN BY EUROPE ON PRODUCTIVITY
Productivity in the United States is slipping behind at least seven European countries, according to the latest information from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which tracks the leading industrialized economies. The Washington-based Economic Policy Institute, which refers to the statistics in its study, The State of Working America, scheduled to be released in September, observes that the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Ireland, Germany and Norway all report greater productivity than the U.S. The average worker in the Netherlands is 6% more productive, but works 59 days less per year than the average American worker. Workers in Norway are 31% more productive. What is more striking, is that most European countries have half the poverty rate of the U.S. While the U.S. still has the highest per capita income, at least 17% of the population in the U.S. now lives in poverty. More disturbing, 21.9% of the children in the U.S. are growing up in poverty.
•To read a summary of the information on relative productivity (in pdf), click here... (a link to the complete chapter comparing different countries is provided at the top of the summary page, or through its website at http://www.eip.org. Advance copies are available for journalists.)
HAS 9/11 TURNED U.S. PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS INTO AN OVERLY MACHO AFFAIR?
"LET'S call it the testosterone election," observes the Economist in a leader. "John Kerry never misses a chance to surround himself with he-man veterans. George Bush looks happiest when addressing crowds of pumped-up soldiers. Mr Bush likes to spend his free time clearing brush on his Texas ranch, dressed in a sweaty T-shirt and a cowboy hat. Mr Kerry likes to spend his riding Harleys or slaughtering wildlife. Both potential leaders of the western world seem to be remarkably proud of falling off their mountain bikes.
"It is all a far cry from the Clinton era. Bill Clinton was not just the first black president, as Toni Morrison dubbed him; he was also the first androgynous president, shifting between masculine and feminine roles as it suited him. With the cold war over, he was free to focus on such traditionally “female” subjects as health care and day care, and feeling everybody's pain. He was visibly uncomfortable with military men (remember that limp salute) and preferred to spend his vacations hobnobbing with metrosexuals in Martha's Vineyard. His one attempt at roughing it, a poll-tested rafting trip, proved a disaster...."
The change, the Economist reasons, is partly due to 9/11, which lionized firemen and police rescue squads. And it also due to electoral politics. Al Gore earned only 36% of the male vote. Kerry has to do better than that to win, and Bush is not doing well with women.
"Moreover, concludes the Economist, "they are vying for leadership of a country that, for all the quibbles, is reconciled to the exercise of “hard” military power—certainly more reconciled than any of its European allies. For all the jibes about their Potemkin convention in Boston, the Democratic Party has moved to the right on defence—and it is well to the right of any of its European equivalents. "
•To read the entire article, click here