BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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Hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. with the impact of a military attack, knocking out 15% of the U.S. gasoline refinery capacity and shutting down half of the U.S. oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico, which account for nearly a third of U.S. production. Some scientists claim that global warming is increasing the intensity of hurricanes placing coastal cities in danger of annihalation.
THE LINK BETWEEN HURRICANES AND GLOBAL WARMING
In a groundbreaking paper in the July 31 issue of Nature, MIT climate scientist, Kerry Emanuel, notes that while climate change does not appear to be changing the number of hurricanes attacking the U.S., it could very well be raising the limits that restrict the hurricane's intensity. Emanuel's paper is available on the Nature website, and through MIT (click here)
-Kerry Emanuel's website
--WBUR's "On Point" show featured Kerry Emanuel, as well as critics of his theory on August 17
(Realaudio or Windows online audio)
THE NEW ORLEANS TIMES-PICAYUNE ONLINE
WAR IN IRAQ LEAVES U.S. UNABLE TO REDEPLOY TROOPS TO HELP WITH U.S. REFUGEE SITUATION There will be no large-scale shifting of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with disaster relief in Louisiana and Mississippi, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Thursday...National Guard units called up for rescue work in Louisiana and Mississippi had to make do without members currently deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. National Guard troops from Alabama and Wisconsin, along with other law enforcers, were ordered to deal with the shortfall. Most Americans identify the National Guard with providing emergency services during natural disasters. But in the past three years, numerous Guard units have been sent to Iraq to fight alongside regular forces. The Louisiana brigade watched the disaster unfold on television as they finished their nearly yearlong deployment to Camp Liberty, west of Baghdad. The troops are expected to leave Iraq by November, if their deployment is not extended.(Jim Krane, AP, September 1, 2005)
THE DAMAGE TO U.S. ENERGY AND ECONOMY
The Baxter (Arkansas) Bulletin may have explained the situation best. Apart from the loss of life and damage that could go as high as $26 billion, Katrina has seriously hurt U.S. domestic oil production, including about 15% of the U.S. refinery capacity. The impact on the U.S. economy combined with the effects of the War in Iraq destabilizing the Middle East could have a dampening effect on the U.S. economy. (Baxter Bulletin, August 29, 2005)
THE NEW YORK TIMES ON PARALYZING THE U.S. ECONOMIC DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM
--NYT SURGING ENERGY COSTS
REPUBLICANS TRIED TO SILENCE LEADING SCIENTISTS ON RISKS FROM GLOBAL WARMING
Britain's Guardian reports on efforts by the Republican head of the house Committee on Energy and Commerce to intimidate leading scientists who had warned of the dangers of Global Warming. (Paul Brown, The Guardian, August 30, 2005)
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY'S EARTH INSTITUTE HOSTED A LANDMARK CLIMATE SYMPOSIUM
The 2-day symposium held in the spring of 2004, gathered the world's leading experts on the climate. Their conclusion: greenhouse gases have raised the CO2 level in the atmosphere to a level not experienced for the previous 400,000 years.
(Columbia University, April 22-23, 2004)
--Full transcript of the discussions
--Pew Center on Climate Change
TEETERING ON THE EDGE OF CIVIL WAR
The Christian Science Monitor's Jill Carroll points out that Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites, who back Muqtada Sadr, have joined forces to oppose a federal solution. As a result the planned referendum could end in an impasse. (Jill Carroll, CSM, August 29, 2005)
TONY KARON: ON WHY PLAN B IS LIKELY TO FIZZLE ... "It must be hard for anyone reading the daily media in the U.S. to comprehend the political catastrophe that has befallen the Bush administration’s Iraq plans. Most of the reporting occurs within the frame — or is it a vacuum? — of a carefully designed constitutional process aimed at achieving consensus and the necessary ethnic, religious and political balances to create a stable democracy. And so, we’re told, “some Sunnis” oppose the new draft constitution, but that they’ll express their opposition at the hustings in October’s constitutional referendum, and perhaps in December’s parliamentary election. In other words, the comforting assumption is being generated (by a machine that has generated all the comforting assumptions and Iraq “turning points” that have proved so fallacious until now) that at least we now have a political process....But such questions assume the Sunnis accept the game as it’s currently defined. And they very clearly don’t. Moreover, the Bush administration is plainly aware of that fact..." (Tony Karon, The Rootless Cosmopolitan, August 31, 2005)
BOLTON:THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION BURNS ITS BRIDGES AT THE UNITED NATIONS
By making a last-minute submission of 175 amendments to the U.N. reform plan, John Bolton may have single-handedly blocked any chance for meaningful reform in the one organization that might have provided cover for an acceptable American withdrawal from Iraq. More than simply sabotaging the process, by charging ahead without consultation and refusing to listen to allies, Bolton has succeeded in damaging the fragile consensus that might have made any kind of meaningful reform possible. The Los Angeles Times analyzes the latest neo-conservative fiasco in an editorial. (L.A. Times, August 30, 2005)
JAG OPPOSITION TO TORTURE
While the White House and Donald Rumsfeld's Pentagon seemed more than ready to stretch the definition of torture, the military's own Judge Advocate General Corps came down firmly against the idea. A major reason, apart from justice: it doesn't work. Karen Greenberg analyzes the JAG memos for TomDispatch.com(Karen P. Greenberg, TomDisptach.com, August 25, 2005)
UNDERMINING THE GLOBAL WAR AGAINST TERROR AT GUANTANAMO
After a reasoned presentation of both sides, Gerard Fogardy notes in the Fall issue of Parameters, the quarterly review of the U.S. Army War College, that "in addition to undermining the rule of law, there have been other harmful unintended consequences of the Administration’s policy in Guantanamo Bay: providing fuel to a rising global anti-Americanism that weakens US influence and effectiveness, degrading the Administration’s domestic support base, and denying the United States the moral high ground it needs to promote international human rights in the future. It seems clear that these costs have far outweighed the operational benefits that the detainee operations have generated..." (Gerard P. Fogardy, Parameters,Fall 2005)
GROUP THINK AND THE SON TAY RAID
In May 1970, the U.S. launched a spectacular special operations raid to free American POWs in Vietnam. The only problem is that no American prisoners were being held at Son Tay. An intriguing analysis of the decision making process reveals the group dynamics that led to a potentially costly mistake. (Mark Amidon, Parameters, Fall 2005)
KAZAKH GATE RUNNING OUT OF STEAM?
The so-called Kazakhgate criminal case has been moving at a snail’s pace through the US federal court system in New York. The indictment alleges that US citizen James Giffen, a former consultant to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, funneled up to $84 million in illicit payments to Nazarbaev and former Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev in exchange for lucrative concessions to Western oil companies. The investigation and the indictment have been a source of major embarrassment for Kazakhstan, a country considered a strategic US ally in Central Asia. But in light of a third consecutive trial postponement, some experts believe Kazakhgate is gradually losing steam.
(Nikola Krastev, Eurasianet.org, August 27, 2005)
UP TO $125 MILLION FOR THE U.S. MOST-WANTED-LIST--DEAD OR ALIVE
The Institute for War Peace Reporting notes that a new campaign in Afghanistan and Iraq offers up to $125 million for the capture of 16 leading Al Qaeda and insurgent suspects. The campaign pointedly does not stress that the persons being hunted necessarily need to be alive when they are turned over to U.S. authorities. A website listing suspects, including a number who are now dead, is available at http://www.rewardsforjustice.net (IWPR, August 25, 2005)
A new section on the jihadist al-Farouq web forum [www.al-farouq.com/vb], created two weeks ago, contains postings that call for heightened electronic attacks against U.S. and allied government websites and provides information for mujahid hackers.This forum represents a how-to manual for the disruption and/or destruction of enemy electronic resources, including e-mail, websites and computer hardware. Such attacks have been threatened by Osama bin Laden and Syrian-born Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Muhammad, dating back to mid-2002. It appears that forum members are taking up the call, sharing information and discussing strategies online. An initial survey of the forum includes detailed instructions and attached software, in addition to links to other websites containing similar utilities. (Jeffrey Pool, Jamestown.org, August 29, 2005)
TAKING A FRESH LOOK AT THE AT RECENT ATTACK ON TWO U.S. NAVY SHIPS AT AQABA
Jordanian intelligence believes that the main perpetrators of the attack had come over the border from Iraq, smuggling weapons in a vehicle. The attack raises the specter of future attacks by militants who are veterans of the insurgency in Iraq, similar to the way that fighters involved in the Afghan struggle against the Soviet Union joined together to take on select Muslim rulers and the countries that supported them. (Erich Marquardt, Power and Interest news Report, August 30, 2005)
U.S. MISSILE DEFENSE: FROM 90% RELIABILITY TO JUST OVER ZERO
In July, Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, head of the Missile Defense Agency, stated that there is a “better-than-zero chance of successfully intercepting, I believe, an inbound warhead.” This contrasts with earlier official statements that predicted an effectiveness rate of over 90 percent. CDI Research Analyst Victoria Samson points out in her analysis, “When do we say when?”, that despite the setbacks during testing, the Pentagon is still requesting funding for more unproven interceptors. She asks, “Why the unbridled enthusiasm when it comes to funding – missile defense overall is the single most expensive weapon system in this year’s budget request – and yet such cautious backpedaling when speaking on record?”(CDI.org, August 25, 2005)
WEAPONIZING OUTER SPACE FOR A NEW ARMS RACE
Anyone wondering whether the Bush administration plans to take an offensive role in outerspace might want to take a look at recent Air Force pronouncements: “Counterspace Operations: Air Force Doctrine Document 2-2.1,” Aug. 2, 2004, United States Air Force;
“U.S. Air Force counterspace operations are the ways and means by which the Air Force achieves and maintains space superiority. Space superiority provides freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack [emphasis in the original].”
“Space superiority is gained and maintained through counterspace operations … . Counterspace operations have defensive and offensive elements … . These operations may … achieve a variety of effects from temporary denial to complete destruction of the adversary’s space capabilities.”(CDI.org, August 26, 2005)
Opposing efforts to provide Iraq with a constitution, an Iraqi follower of Muqtada Sadr holds a poster challenging the U.S.-backed process.
HOSTAGE TO POLITICAL WEAKNESS
Mansour Sleiman notes that during the Vietnam War, the U.S. found itself hostage to the South Vietnamese government's inability to be perceived as a legitimate authority, or to stand up to North Vietnamese and Vietcong forces. Without a government strong enough to stand on its own, the U.S. could not withdraw, but it was also unable to make any progress towards resolving the conflict. The result was a meatgrinder that killed 60,000 American soldiers. Sleiman's analysis, based on personal experience and a study from the U.S. Army War College is well worth reading. (Mansour Sleiman, Al Jazeera, August 30, 2005) THE U.S. ARMY WAR COLLEGE--IRAQ: DIFFERENCES, SIMILARITIES AND INSIGHTS
by Dr. Jeffrey Record and Dr. Andrew Terrill, May 2004 --JUAN COLE: CONSTITUTIONAL REALITY CHECK
READ BILLMON'S BLOG ON THE SILLIEST OF HISTORICAL ANALOGIES
FRANCIS FUKUYAMA: A WAR THAT IS OUT OF SYNC WITH AMERICAN CULTURE The War in Iraq is only tangentially related to Al Qaeda's attack on 9/11. The President's support has stemmed primarily from neoconservatives, who provided an intellectual ideology, and from Jacksonian pugnacious isolationists within the Republican Party. The President's inability to find a credible rationale for the war has driven him deeper into the neocon camp, while the Jacksonian's feel uneasy about abandoning the commander-in-chief in the middle of a conflict. But since the Jacksonians are paying the price in blood and wounded combatants, the alliance is a fragile one at best. (Francis Fukuyama, New York Times, August 31, 2005)
--ANTHONY CORDESMAN ON THE ESSENTIAL FLAWS
"It seems likely to create a kind of federalism that will meet Shi’ite and Kurdish needs, and allocate oil revenues and government funds in ways that favor them, rather than provide incentives to the Sunnis in terms of reconstruction, dealing with the loss of the privileges they had under Saddam, and compensating for losses during the insurgency. Even if the Sunnis involved in helping to draft the document can be persuaded to accept it, this will be a major problem. The majority of Iraqi Sunnis are not yet committed to the political process, and the end result seems to offer little incentive to insurgents to become part of the political process – other than the threat things will be even worse if they do not. Rather than an “inclusive” document, it is more a recipe for separation based on Shi’ite and Kurdish privilege. At best, the way the drafting has been handled is almost certain to aid the insurgents in the short run – justifying their arguments that Shi’ites and the national political process cannot be trusted..." (Anthony Cordesman, CSIS, August 23, 2005) STRATEGIC CONFUSION
Lana Nusseibeh points out in Beirut's Daily Star that the Iraq insurgency manages to spring new heads each time one is cut off. Terrorist groups have found the perfect vehicle to conduct activities, creating an ideal terrorist state within a state. (Lana Nusseibeh, The Beirut Daily Star, August 29, 2005) IVO DALDER: IF PLAN A FIZZLES, WHAT ABOUT A PLAN B?
President Bush is counting on Iraq’s new constitution as the key piece to his exit plan from Iraq. But things aren’t quite working out that way. (Ivo Dalder, Brookings, August 17, 2005) CINTRA WILSON ON TWO WEEKS WITH THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPS AND THE ROVE-A-THON
Wilson writes in Salon:
"I had front row seats at the media's Great Slave Rebellion over Karl Rove. No wonder our democracy's in trouble….In the last few years, the press has lost all sense of its own mojo. Things bottomed out after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, when any aggressive grilling of the administration branded reporters as unpatriotic, which potentially alienated their audiences. The high emotion surrounding 9/11 and the War on Terror (or the new, improved Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism, which the Beltway kids snarkily refer to as G-SAVE) have made them very useful hostage babies for the administration cowboys to shield themselves with during shootouts with the press. Somehow, aggressive questioning of the White House got spun as a heretical insult to slaughtered American innocents. It was so demoralizing that after a while the press succumbed en masse to what I call the Potomac dinge: passive cooperation in one's own degradation -- the deranged, unconscious complicity that is found in victims of ritual abuse. (Cintra Wilson, Salon, August 29, 2005)
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