Wednesday, January 28, 2004 Post-Standard:
Davos and the Real World Policy-makers must address
Middle East's economic woes
by Jay Mandle

The news from last week's World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland is positive. Worldwide recovery appears imminent. This view is true if one excludes the Middle East.
Ignoring this impoverished region is a perilous decision. The dearth of economic development in the Middle East continues to be an incendiary component of the region's unrest. Real economic assistance is central to the pursuit of Middle East peace.......
Powerful impediments to economic growth exist in the region. Illiteracy, especially among women, is high; the flow of foreign direct investment is low (about one-quarter of the per capita level of comparable middle-income countries); the export of agricultural and manufactured goods - the symbol of modern growth - is minuscule.
It is possible to overcome these obstacles. Modern economic development can help to defuse terrorism, but that cannot be accomplished when terrorism is evaluated primarily from a military perspective.....
...economic neglect, as contrasted with billions of dollars spent on our military effort, feeds the perception that opening the region to foreign investment is an insincere gesture...
....The reluctance of foreign businesses to invest despite the promise of favorable treatment is caused, in part, by the question of whether the new regulations are legal. International law requires an occupying power to respect laws already in force. The new regulations are more reflective of what the Bush administration wants than they are rules that might open and develop the economy.....
....As long as the leaders and people of the region are preoccupied with war and the threat of war, progressive reforms have no chance. Leadership in the region finds it much easier to direct frustration to external agents rather than address the difficult challenges that are present internally....."

Let's face it-Diane Sawyer was totally rude to the Deans
For me, she fell from grace as anything close to an intelligent, trustworthy, or fair reporter when I saw her interview the Deans. She became a traitor to her 21st-century gender...a harmful presence to any independent woman living in America today. She'll never look the same to me again. She's a lame excuse for a modern journalist. I don't care how many awards she's received. ABC should be ashamed and embarrassed by this banal gender-bashing display of hypocrisy... employing a million-dollar career woman whose husband has a brilliant career of his own to bash away at a similar woman. Sawyer owes Judy Dean an apology. Until I see she does that, I will consider her nothing more than an unprincipled, ill-used (yet willing) rag for someone else's amusement and/or agenda. Women have spent enough of history being someone else's fluff-bag. Diane is obviously not strong or willing enough to stop the beating societal "stand-by your-man" drums.
Excerpts from this LA Times article ring true:
Diane Sawyer's interview with Howard Dean and his wife last week was a textbook case of everything that is wrong with television coverage of politics...Out of the 96 questions that Sawyer asked, 90 were about personality and temperament and only six were even vaguely about issues; virtually all 96 were hostile and negative....Twenty questions were about Judy Dean's absence from the campaign, which appeared to fault her for failing to stand by her man while at the same time criticizing the couple's decision to be interviewed together...Throughout, the questions assumed that negative stereotypes about Dean were simple truths rather than debatable opinions....Even the paltry number of supposedly issue-related questions were really about style rather than substance.....When Dean tried to move the discussion to matters of substance, Sawyer inevitably pushed it back to negative fluff...Dean's natural response should have been, at some point, to have cut Sawyer off: "Excuse me, I'm tired of answering these superficial questions. Can't we talk about issues that matter to the American people?" Had he done so, however, it would have appeared to confirm the rap on him as a hothead. So the Deans were forced into the frame supplied by Sawyer...
To her credit, on the Chris Matthews talk show, I recently saw Campbell Brown defend Judy Dean's right to be independent from the be close to her son...her patients. It confirmed my faith that there ARE women in journalism who will vouch for and defend for a fellow career-woman.

Washington Post
WMDs--Four "Lessons"

In the Washington Post, Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science and public policy at Duke University, states that, if the current David Kay exit interview had been available in March 2003, it's unlikely that the administration would have pressed for war.

He goes on to say that it's possible that reasonable people would have still advocated war since the war case rested on multiple pillars --

1. Dealing with a problem now before it became an unmanageable problem later.
--Of which I ask: Why could it NOT have been "managed" through the U.N., NATO, and international cooperation?

2. Recognizing that Hussein could not be trusted in the long run, recognizing that the war on terrorists involved getting tough on the causes of terrorism (stunted political development in the Middle East).
--Of which I ask: Where is the 9-11/Hussein connection? I've got news for Mr. Feaver...there wasn't a relevant connection. The stunted development was due to economic factors more than having a novel-writing delusional nutcase for a leader. Draconian economic policy toward Iraq caused much death and hardship upon the already-impoverished nation.

3. Recognizing that the status quo policy on Iraq was responsible for creating the conditions that gave rise to al Qaeda in the first place.
--Of which I ask: Why did Bush 41 create the conditions under which untold numbers of Iraqis were massacred? Why did Bush 41 fail to truly LEAD in the early 90s and have the political wisdom and fortitude to take out Saddam? Why, instead, did he only lead the U.N. to impose Draconian sanctions against that country? Is Professor Feaver insinuating that Bush 41 created the perfect opportunity for the growth of terror? Does Professor Feaver see that Bush the Younger has caused conditions under which American troops die while terror is given opportunity for further growth?

Professor Feaver thinks, by all means, we should have a full investigation into the intelligence failure (though, he says, "let us not expect one during a presidential campaign").

But he doesn't want you to hold out much hope. He warns us not to "think that much better intelligence would have been achievable or conclusive in helping us decide how to deal with Hussein".

It was politics...pure and simple.
The kind that risks American lives and limbs.

The N.Y. Times believes that only an independent panel can be trusted at this point to find out what went wrong in Iraq and give the public some hope that another big intelligence failure can be prevented in the future. They say that, "while Tony Blair was cooperating with a British investigation into his handling of the lead-up to the Iraqi invasion, the Bush White House continued to follow its strategy of spin and evade. Because Mr. Blair was compelled to take the risk that objective investigators would find that he had acted honorably and honestly, Britain is now able to move on to the next logical step — finding out why its intelligence was so completely wrong. Americans, however, are still stuck in stage one.."

N.Y. Times Op-Ed
Hey, Safire- get outta town with the 'Hillary-as-savior'-speculation, already!
N.Y. Times Op-Ed
My God Is Your God
By John Kearney
"'s a suggestion: when journalists write about Muslims, or translate from Arabic, Urdu, Farsi or other languages, they should translate "Allah" as "God," too. A minor point? Perhaps not...Christian Arabs use "Allah" for God, as do Arabic-speaking Jews. In Aramaic, the language of Jesus, God is "Allaha," just a syllable away from Allah....."There is no god but God" is the first of Islam's five pillars. It is Muhammad's refutation of polytheism. Yet to today's non-Muslims, the locution "there is no God but Allah" reads as an affront, a declaration that inflammatory Allah trumps the Biblical God. This journalistic rendition distorts the meaning of the Muslim confession of faith..."

Howard Dean has a new campaign manager

...and the press has a hold of the story before it appears on the Dean for America blog. Hmmm....a very "un-Trippi" development. Roy Neel, instead of being "Senior Advisor" for Dean, will now be the new campaign CEO.
Turn and face the strange ch-ch-ch-changes.
Army Spc. Karen Guckert is one example of a brave and honorable soldier
A new blog called Iraq News has brought the name of Karen Guckert to my attention. Karen is just one of many women who stand side-by-side with male troops in Iraq's deadly firing line today. More than 10 American women soldiers have died in Iraq since U.S.-led troops invaded in March. Many others have been wounded.
Spc. Guckert won the U.S. Army Commendation Medal for Valor when she saved two troops injured in a blast in Iraq this past October 1st.
You can see Karen Guckert here--third photo down.

The Iraq News blog also carries an article pointing toward the fact that the U.S. is seeing the wisdom of U.N. involvement in the problem of the Iraqi election process. Shiite leader al-Sistani has called the U.S. on the matter and caused the U.S. to compromise on the plan for a caucus system for Iraqi elections. Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a Shiite Governing Council member, told CNN he "strongly" believes there can be a compromise, such as delaying the handover process and holding direct elections later this year. This may or may not bode well for Bush's political hopes and dreams for a quicker handover, but could also work in his favor if violence is curbed by compromising...making his war look more successful in its results. (Will this be enough, however, to cause America to forget the reckless reasons and lies/exaggerations for attacking Iraq to begin with?)

Congratulations to John Kerry and Howard Dean-
Bush- Your bus ticket back to Crawford is waiting!

The Democratic race is not over yet. In another week, we may be seeing an entirely different picture painted by Democrats from the seven states slated to hold their respective primaries.
I would caution men like Paul Begala and James Carville to watch what they say about this field of candidates. Watching them on an after-the-primary CNN interview last night, I was appalled to see them discounting the character of Howard Dean for not mentioning John Kerry's win or name in his N.H. concession-speech. (Yet, they fully admitted Dean had called Kerry to congratulate him at 9:15). Carville said Kerry would likely be the Democratic nominee. This, my friends, did NOT sound "democratic" to me. This race is far from over. If I continue to see my party working in this way, they will soon have one less Democrat to defend them. I was an Independent for much of my "voting life", and I've lately considered going back to where I started.