BROOKINGS: IRAQ INDEX
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The destruction of New Orleans may mark a turning point in American politics. Open for debate is the question to what extent the federal government should take responsibility for protecting the American public.
Michael Brown's qualification to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency appeared to have been his friendship with George Bush's former 2000 campaign manager, Joseph Allbaugh, who had also served as Bush's chief of staff when he was governor of Texas.
CASHING IN ON KATRINA?
Scotland's Sunday Herald reports, "Companies with ties to the Bush White House and the former head of FEMA are clinching some of the administration’s first disaster relief and reconstruction contracts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
At least two major corporate clients of lobbyist Joe Allbaugh, President George W Bush’s former campaign manager and a former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, have already been tapped to start recovery work along the battered Gulf Coast.
One is Shaw Group Inc and the other is Halliburton Co subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root. Vice president Dick Cheney is a former head of Halliburton. ( Torcuil Crichton, Sunday Herald, September 11, 2005)
REP. HENRY WAXMAN CALLS FOR SUPERVISION OF HURRICANE RECONSTRUCTION FUNDS
After Halliburton snared more than half the Iraqi reconstruction funds, despite the fact that vice-president Dick Cheney no longer has an active role in the company, Waxman is urging a more careful audit of Katrina reconstruction money--some of which was already on the point of being doled out bypassing competitive bidding. The administration has acted swiftly to allay fears, and insists that proper auditing will be carried out. (Rep. Henry Waxman, Dem-California, House Committee on Government Reform)
THE DAMAGE ABROAD
Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and previously head of policy planning at the U.S. State Department, notes: "...The images seen around the world communicated a lack of competence and considerable chaos and suffering.... America's enemies indulged in schadenfreude. Hugo Chávez could not resist the chance to taunt President Bush; North Korea radio linked the U.S. "defeat" in Iraq with its "defeat" by Katrina; jihadists celebrated what had happened and the possibility the price of oil would soar even higher. The world's only remaining superpower appeared to be anything but. In an era of 24-hour satellite television and the Internet, public diplomacy is about who Americans are and what they do, not just what they say. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens here does not stay here..."(Richard Haas, Slate, September 9, 2005)
DANIEL YERGIN ON KATRINA AND U.S. ENERGY SUPPLIES
As an executive of a major oil company put it, "Our platforms and facilities are designed for a 100-year storm. But this storm was something else." ... The big question surrounds underwater pipelines. Their vulnerability to mudslides was a prime lesson of last year's Hurricane Ivan, and remotely operated underwater vehicles will have to methodically assess the damage... (Daniel Yergin, Cambridge Energy Research Associates, September 2, 2005)
UPDATING THE DAMAGE TO OIL AND GAS
In the most optimistic scenario, oil production damaged by Katrina, might return significantly by the end of the year. Currently, there are four refineries (ChevronTexaco, located in Pascagoula, MS; ConocoPhillips, located in Belle Chasse, LA; ExxonMobil, located in Chalmette, LA; and Murphy, located in Meraux, LA) that remain shut down, and expectations are that these refineries, which represent about 5 percent of total U.S. refining capacity, could be shut down for an extended period.(Energy Information Admiistration, September 12, 2005)
REVISING THE RULES FOR A PREEMPTIVE NUCLEAR STRIKE
The Pentagon has drafted a revised doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons that envisions commanders requesting presidential approval to use them to preempt an attack by a nation or a terrorist group using weapons of mass destruction. The draft also includes the option of using nuclear arms to destroy known enemy stockpiles of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The document, written by the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs staff but not yet finally approved by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, would update rules and procedures governing use of nuclear weapons to reflect a preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002. (Walter Pincus, Washington Post, September 11, 2005)
BAGHDAD HIT BY 11 SUICIDE BOMBS KILLING MORE THAN 150 PEOPLE AND WOUNDING HUNDREDS
In the worst incident, at least 112 people were killed and some 160 injured when a car bomb exploded in Baghdad's mainly Shia district of Kadhimiya. During the night, gunmen killed 17 men in the nearby town of Taji after dragging them from their homes. Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed it had begun a nationwide bombing campaign to avenge a recent major offensive on rebels. Iraq is the battlefront of terrorism in the world now - we have to fight the terrorists
Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi In a statement on a website, the group said it acted after US and Iraqi forces attacked insurgents in the northern town of Talafar. (BBC, September 14, 2005)
-Juan Cole on Iraq's "Black Wednesday"
AL ZARQAWI DECLARES CIVIL WAR AGAINST SHIA
"The al-Qaeda Organisation in the Land of Two Rivers (Iraq) is declaring all-out war on the Rafidha (a pejorative term for Shia), wherever they are in Iraq," said the voice which could not be immediately verified but sounded like previous recordings attributed to al-Zarqawi. "As for the government, servants of the crusaders headed by Ibrahim al-Jaafari, they have declared a war on Sunnis in Tal Afar," the clip added.
(Al Jazeera, September 14, 2005)
THE U.N. SUMMIT IN NEW YORK
With the largest gathering of world leaders under a single roof expected to last from Wednesday through Friday, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan had hoped to renew the world's commitment to fighting third world poverty, and to establishing meaningful reforms in the U.N.'s structure. Instead, the conference produced a somewhat tired repetition of George Bush and Tony Blair's urging for the world to unite against a nebulous international terror movement. David Usborne reports in Britain's Independent on what was hoped for, and the likely result. (David Usborne, The Independent, September 14, 2005)
The New York Times: Bush meets skepticism
-BBC analysis of the U.N. Millenium Summit
WORLD MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT(pdf)
-WORLD SUMMIT WEBSITE (September 14-16, 2005)
-THE MILLENIUM PROJECT WEBSITE
-MILLENIUM GOALS WEBSITE
-KCRW'S TO THE POINT ANALYZES WHAT IS AT STAKE AT THE SUMMIT(streaming audio)
ALLOWING OSAMA BIN LADEN TO ESCAPE
Mary Anne Weaver, writing in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, describes the final battle of Tora Bora when U.S. military commanders allowed Osama Bin Laden to slip past them to freedom. The cave complex, Weaver writes, had been so refined that it was said to have its own ventilation system and a power system created by a series of hydroelectric generators; Tora Bora's walls and the floors of its hundreds of rooms were finished and smooth and extended some 350 yards into the granite mountain that enveloped them. Now, as the last major battle of the war in Afghanistan began, hidden from view inside the caves were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 well-trained, well-armed men. A mile below, at the base of the caves, some three dozen U.S. Special Forces troops fanned out. They were the only ground forces that senior American military leaders had committed to the Tora Bora campaign....(Mary Anne Weaver, New York Times Magazine, September 11, 2005)
LISTENING TO IRAQIS
Salon's Gary Kamiya observes that in his new book, "Night Draws Near: Iraq's People in the Shadow of America's War," Anthony Shadid, a reporter for the Washington Post, takes readers into the homes, and minds, of Iraqis of every stripe -- from a Baghdad doctor who loves America but has no idea why America wants to invade his "pathetic" country to an impoverished single mother trying to feed her eight children; from a government minder who ends up becoming Shadid's best Iraqi fixer -- and friend -- to a devoutly religious young peasant who resolves to die fighting the occupiers. Informed, scrupulously observed, elegantly written and deeply compassionate, "Night Draws Near" is a classic not just of war reporting but of what we might call frontline anthropology... (Gary Kamiya, Salon, September 13, 2005)
RUSSIAN-CHINESE NAVY MANEUVERS MAY POINT TO A NEW COALITION TO COUNTERACT GROWING U.S. INFLUENCE IN CENTRAL ASIA
Since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, which led to an increasingly influential role for Washington in Central Asia, Moscow and Beijing have drawn together under the common interest of preventing further U.S. influence in the region. Their mutual interest formed after a series of "colored revolutions" in the region; these revolutions weakened Russian influence in its near abroad and concerned China that an intensified U.S. role in Central Asia would lead to regional instability in an area that Beijing hopes to exploit for energy resources. For instance, China National Petroleum Corporation is expected to win a bid for the Canadian energy company PetroKazakhstan, which holds oil reserves in Kazakhstan and owns a major refinery there. (Erich Marquardt, Yevgeny Bendersky, Power and Interest News Report, September 15, 2005)
U.S. LIKELY TO RENEW TIES WITH INDONESIA'S MILITARY
Officials in Washington are increasingly confident the United States will restore full military relations with Indonesia, despite past human rights violations by that country's military. The White House has been working hard to persuade Congress to fully lift the military embargo imposed on Indonesia. It cites as the main reason cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries in the wake of last year's tsunami as proof of improved military ties.The Indonesian military very much wants the embargo ended, given its own of shortage spare parts. For example, on July 21 two Indonesian Air Force planes crashed in separate incidents. (David Isenberg, Asia Times, September 14, 2005)
SPECULATION SUGGESTS FUTURE U.S. BASE IN AZERBAIJAN
As the Pentagon prepares to withdraw troops from Uzbekistan at the request of the Uzbek government, speculation has mounted that US forces could relocate to Azerbaijan. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has visited Azerbaijan three times in the past year, and, despite a denial by US Ambassador Harnish, local media continue to report that the Pentagon chief plans a return trip in the near future.(Alman Mir Ismail, Eurasianet.org, September 12, 2005)
KAZAKHSTAN'S LEADER CURRIES FAVOR WITH WASHINGTON TO PREVENT ANOTHER "ORANGE REVOLUTION"
The Kazakhstani government in recent weeks has sought to bolster relations with the United States, which is widely suspected in Central Asia of acting as the sponsor of the "color revolutions." [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. In late August, Foreign Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev visited Washington, where he reaffirmed Kazakhstan’s support for the US-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. US officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, reciprocated by praising the Kazakhstani government as a reliable strategic partner.(Ibragim Alibekov, Eurasianet.org, September 9, 2005)
George Bush, Iraq and Katrina: too little, too late, by accident or design?
SOCIAL DARWINISM, DECIVILIZATION, AND THE NEOCONS
Katrina is emerging as an important demonstration of just what happens when an enfeebled government encounters a situation that strips away the social safety net and expects the "Free Market" to take up the slack. Timothy Garton-Ash notes in Britain's Guardian that what follows is a form of "decivilization." Or, as Garton-Ash puts it: " Remove the elementary staples of organised, civilised life - food, shelter, drinkable water, minimal personal security - and we go back within hours to a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all. Some people, some of the time, behave with heroic solidarity; most people, most of the time, engage in a ruthless fight for individual and genetic survival. A few become temporary angels, most revert to being apes..."With global climate change likely to increase the frequency of disasters like Katrina, we can expect a less than stable future.
(Timothy Garton-Ash, The Guardian, September 8, 2005)
TONY KARON: ASSESSING GARTON-ASH'S LOGIC
"...What I found a lot more annoying, and insidious, in Garton-Ash’s piece, was the fact that in the guise of this coolly detached social analysis, he is inadvertently rationalizing the very social Darwinism that lies at the heart of the betrayal of the people of New Orleans. Thousands may have died because the levees were not upgraded, despite repeated warnings of their vulnerability – the money was spent elsewhere. And FEMA’s response was shameful – hardly surprising, though, because FEMA was gutted by the Bush administration as part of their assault on “Big Government.” The hurricane was a natural disaster, but the extent of its impact was a product of human actions and omissions. The same social darwinism as Garton-Ash treats as inevitable is what undergirds the systematic looting of the federal government (through tax cuts and corporate welfare) over the past couple of decades, by a party governing in the interests of a tiny minority of the wealthiest Americans..."
(Tony Karon, The Rootless Cosmopolitan, September 12, 2005)
CORNEL WEST ON "POVERTINA"
West writes: "What we saw unfold in the days after the hurricane was the most naked manifestation of conservative social policy towards the poor, where the message for decades has been: 'You are on your own'. Well, they really were on their own for five days in that Superdome, and it was Darwinism in action - the survival of the fittest. People said: 'It looks like something out of the Third World.' Well, New Orleans was Third World long before the hurricane. It's not just Katrina, it's povertina. People were quick to call them refugees because they looked as if they were from another country. They are. Exiles in America. Their humanity had been rendered invisible so they were never given high priority when the well-to-do got out and the helicopters came for the few. Almost everyone stuck on rooftops, in the shelters, and dying by the side of the road was poor black..."(Cornel West, The Observer, September 11, 2005)
U.S. Central Command's website and Newsletter
Updating Info on Iraq, Afghanistan. the Middle East and the Horn of Africa