Tuesday, March 25, 2003

While Baghdad burns, the real powderkeg edges up closer to explosion

"ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – US forces may have ousted the Taliban regime in Afghanistan more than a year ago, but their influence still permeates across the border in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier province. Last weekend, a new fundamentalist government there announced plans to establish a version of sharia (Islamic law) similar in many ways to the rigid code practiced by the Taliban."

"In a state founded on religious ideology, it is impossible to revert laws or any other thing for that matter, that's brought forward and imposed on the basis of religion. Questioning the law becomes questioning the religion" says a human rights activist, Amir Murtaza.
Observers say fundamentalists have intentionally decided to go ahead with their plans, hoping to avoid criticism while the world is diverted toward Iraq."

In the 1980s China transferred the key technologies required to give Pakistan the capability to build an "Islamic Bomb".
"China now faces a nuclear India to its south-west, a potentially nuclear Japan and South Korea to its east, and a Taiwan ready to go nuclear to its south - apart from the Russian arsenal to the north, and an American capability everywhere. Arizona Sen. John McCain, an influential Republican, said on Jan. 5 that the best way to make it in China’s interests to persuade North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to change his mind on nuclear weapons would be “to remove our objections to Japan developing nuclear weapons”. Almost certainly an early sign of things to come."

The prospect for the future spread of nuclear technology from Pakistan is increasing as the political power balance shifts towards Islamist parties. President Musharraf and his spokesman Lt. Gen. Rashid Qureshi have stated that Pakistan would never proliferate such technology; Musharraf has personally given a 400% non-proliferation guarantee to US Secretary of State Colin Powell and a 500% assurance to the Japanese government (a differential that has perplexed some official Japanese observers). Yet over the past decade, Pakistan has either transferred or proposed to transfer nuclear technology and/or know-how to all three countries listed in US President George Bush's "axis of evil" - Iraq, North Korea and Iran. Some Pakistani scientists are currently under detention on suspicion of supplying information on how to build nuclear weapons to Al Qaida and the Taliban, while others are reported to have fled to Burma (another "rogue" state), or simply "disappeared" to unknown destinations.

I think we need to carefully consider the daily-changing reasons, fabrications and innuendo our own government has thrown out into the ether in order to justify this war.
The visions of cheering, dancing sugar-plums and Iraqis waiting with open arms and open hearts for their liberation.
People were led to believe this would be the case. The media reinforced that vision every day.

It just isn't so.

A lot of things the government has been telling us haven't turned out to be "so".

When we fail to question, we fail as a democracy.

We just can't assume a sense of blind loyalty and think our best interests are at the heart of all this.

HOWARD DEAN ON THE IRAQ WAR ..this week in Iowa.

"Dean declined to say whether he supported the bombing of Baghdad, but renewed his criticism of the war. "It's a conflict I prefer we not be in. I think we could have contained Saddam Hussein without resorting to a pre-emptive strike," he said.
Dean said he will offer his support for American troops while criticizing Bush for attacking Iraq.
"The president has made his choice, and I certainly think we want to be in a position where we don't criticize the soldiers because they are there doing what their duty is under the Constitution," he said.

"I'm very hopeful there will be minimal civilian casualties. Any time you carpet-bomb a place, you risk killing an enormous number of innocent people. Once the president went in, which as you know I do not support, I was hoping this would go very quickly and with minimal civilian casualties. It looked like we were making pretty good progress. You never want to see wholesale carnage of civilians."
Gov. Howard Dean

Outcome of war will dictate impact on Iowa caucuses
Register Staff Writer
DesMoines Register

Depending on the war's outcome, the Democrats running for president in Iowa could be helped or haunted by their positions on Iraq.
If the war goes well, it's good news for the House and Senate members who cast their lot behind the war last fall by supporting broad authority for President Bush to launch an attack.
But an unsuccessful invasion could cripple their chances to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Bush in 2004.
"The war's successes will fade quickly, but failures will mark those seen as being complicit," said Ohio State University political science professor John Mueller.
The odds favor those who supported the resolution, he said.
"It's got to go on for months, with high American casualties, for that to occur," Mueller said of the disaster scenario, "and, by all estimates, the war is supposed to be over in a couple weeks."
U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri and U.S. Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut all voted for a resolution last fall giving President Bush the authority to pursue war without United Nations backing.
On the other side, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, U.S. Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun and civil rights activist the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York opposed the Bush war resolution.
Democrats backing the president already were getting the cold shoulder from some caucus activists weeks before Bush issued his 48-hour ultimatum to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
"It is certainly causing strong feelings among a lot of Democratic activists," said caucus activist Teri Goodmann, the former Dubuque County Democratic Party chairwoman. "It's forced me to look for someone who does have experience in foreign relations."
Caucus voters tend to be a little more liberal than the average Democrat, caucus experts say. To cast a vote in a caucus, one has to be willing to attend a precinct meeting, typically on a cold winter's night. It's no place for the faint-hearted.
Discovery by troops of atrocities linked to Saddam or evidence he obstructed U.N. weapons inspectors would make the anti-war candidates' calls for continuing inspections and diplomacy seem out of touch, said Dianne Bystrom, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University.
"If the war goes well, it could help the Democrats who sounded most like George Bush. If it doesn't go well, it could benefit someone like Howard Dean or Bob Graham," she said.
Bystrom doesn't expect a clear-cut political winner or loser to emerge, based strictly on the war. But she says the war has cast a shadow over the early caucus campaign.
"This is a whole different election than we've had in many years because of the situation with Iraq," she said.
Retired Drake University political science professor Hugh Winebrenner said not since George McGovern's 1972 campaign have anti-war Democrats been such a factor in setting the tone of the Iowa caucuses.
"In 1972, McGovern attempted to make an issue of the (Vietnam) war," and finished second to U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine, building momentum that helped propel the South Dakota senator to his party's nomination, said Winebrenner, a caucus historian.
The war could have another potential impact on the caucuses. It could expand the field of candidates.
Retired NATO commander Gen. Wesley Clark is a good bet to get in if the war goes poorly, Bystrom said. Clark, who retired in 2000, has spent much of the past year as a guest military expert on CNN, traveling with an Arkansas financial firm and meeting influential Democrats. He has said he is not a candidate, but is widely believed to be considering a run. Clark's staff made introductory calls to Iowa Democratic operatives late last year.
"I think we are going to see people getting into this race after Iraq," Bystrom said. "We might see people drop out if it goes well and Bush is flying high. We just don't know right now."
If the Iraqi invasion goes well, it's possible that by the time of the caucuses, scheduled for Jan. 19, 2004, war won't be a dominant campaign issue.
Winebrenner said no one knows better than President Bush's father how quickly a successful war can fade from the minds of American voters. The elder Bush enjoyed huge popularity at the end of the Gulf War in 1991, but lost his re-election bid a year later.
"Obviously, victory in the Gulf didn't have much of a lasting effect for Bush senior," Winebrenner said. "A similar scenario is possible now."
Copyright 2003DesMoinesRegister