Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tenet: Slam or Sham?

Tenet: Slam or Sham?

I hear George Tenet's writing a book and he says he will also provide "the real context" of his own now-famous "slam-dunk comment" about Saddam Hussein's suspected pre-war weapons of mass destruction. (This, according to his publisher).


I wonder if it will be as "meaningful" as the confessions made in fellow Medal of Freedom winner J. Paul Bremer's book.

I have a sneaking suspicion that it will be an attempt at a "startling revelation" (fake gasp here) from just another guy who's reputation was ruined when he decided that his loyalty to a figurehead meant more than doing all he could to stop Bush from steering our nation toward disaster. Do I sound bitter? Jaded? Sick of seeing these people rake in millions for lame admissions once we've been had?

You might be right.

Josh Marshall: The Headline You Haven't Seen

Josh Marshall on The Headline You Haven't Seen

Josh Marshall wants to know why a key part of the Abramoff story is not being investigated or talked about in the mainstream media.

The wunderkind blogger is all over the Jack Abramoff saga. If you want to stay 'in the know', be sure to read Josh - several times a day if possible.

Iran: Diplomacy and the UN Security Council

Iran: Diplomacy and the UN Security Council

From Reuters -
European powers began circulating a draft resolution on Wednesday that asks the U.N. nuclear watchdog to report Iran to the Security Council, though diplomats said any U.N. sanctions would be a long way off...

....The chief of France's defense staff said the idea of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon was "a real nightmare" but added that a negotiated solution remained possible and that any hasty resort to military action would be "completely mad."

"That would create a dreadful drama in the Middle East," General Henri Bentegeat told Europe 1 radio. "Maybe one day we will get to that point. But today it is exclusively the diplomats who are having their say."

The EU draft asks IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to keep up inspections to try to provide "credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran."

The text, being circulated among key IAEA board members, may undergo changes as they discuss it. [Reuters]

from the Guardian UK -
.....diplomacy is the right way to respond. The Islamic Republic is within its rights to want to develop nuclear energy, like all signatories to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). It is not entitled to build nuclear weapons, though despite denials there is circumstantial evidence that it may be trying to do just that. Past evasion and concealment do not inspire confidence. The CIA's best estimate is that Iran is 10 years from building a bomb, though with dual-use technical breakthroughs or black-market purchases it could be sooner. Intelligence though, as the Iraq war showed, is notoriously unreliable. If accurate - and not exaggerated by spies, spin doctors or exiles - it can pinpoint capabilities. Intentions are a different matter. [editorial Guardian UK]

The Washington Post gives you the key players in the game.

Janine Zacharia at Bloomberg is reporting that Russia's proposal to hold off on a formal referral of Iran to the United Nations' Security Counci suggests disharmony ahead of an emergency (Feb. 2) IAEA meeting. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said what action the IAEA will take may not be clear until the last minute. A majority vote by the 35-member board of the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, is required for a referral to the Security Council.

Russia has offered to allow Iran to enrich uranium in Russia. Iran rejected this request, insisting it has the "right" to carry out enrichment on its own soil, and resumed research, triggering calls Jan. 12 from France, Germany, Britain and the U.S. to refer Iran's nuclear program to the UN.

In other news..
Russia's foreign minister warned Tuesday that sanctions were not the best way to resolve the Iranian nuclear crisis and urged all nations to keep non-proliferation as their goal. -

The Progressive website hosts an article by Amitabh Pal which points out that "the nuclear hypocrisy of the five established powers has been one of the major reasons that Iran’s nuclear program has widespread support among its populace."

Why was even Nobel Peace Prize-winner Shirin Ebadi, who has never hesitated to fight for her principles, recently reluctant to outright condemn Iran’s nuclear ambitions?

Last August, I blogged about a comment that Mme. Ebadi had made:
Listen to the reasoning of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi of Iran (quoted below-see LINK).

"Iranian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi has said that while she, too, opposes nuclear weapons, the West would do more good by focusing not on Tehran's nuclear programme but on promoting democracy in the Islamic Republic.

"In a country or a society where people supervise decisions and everything else, like a democratic country, the existence of an atomic bomb cannot be dangerous," Ms Ebadi said."
There could be many possible geopolitical consequences, depending upon the outcome with the IAEA and/or the UN Security council - look at this article:

Syria and Iran, an axis of evil upheaval

Veteran Smears From the Right Will Cost Republicans

Veteran Smears From the Right Will Cost Republicans

The political tactic of playing up the soldiers on the battlefield while tearing down the reputations of veterans who oppose them could eventually cost the Republicans dearly. It may be one reason that a preponderance of the Iraq war veterans who thus far have decided to run for office are doing so as Democrats.

A young American now serving in Iraq might rightly wonder whether his or her service will be deliberately misconstrued 20 years from now, in the next rendition of politically motivated spinmeisters who never had the courage to step forward and put their own lives on the line.

Rudyard Kipling summed up this syndrome quite neatly more than a century ago, writing about the frequent hypocrisy directed at the British soldiers of his day:

An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;

An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!

- James Webb, a secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration, was a Marine platoon and company commander in Vietnam

[NYT Select]

Warren Buffet: Trade Deficit Threatens US Economy

Warren Buffet: Trade Deficit Threatens US Economy
AP-Scott Sonner -
The U.S. trade deficit is a bigger threat to the domestic economy than either the federal budget deficit or consumer debt and could lead to "political turmoil," billionaire investor Warren Buffett warned. "Right now, the rest of the world owns $3 trillion more of us than we own of them," Buffett told business students and faculty Tuesday at the University of Nevada, Reno. "In my view, it will create political turmoil at some point. ...
...The U.S. trade deficit soared to a record $665.9 billion in 2004, and Buffett said he expects it to top $700 billion this year.

"That's $2 billion a day. We are like a super rich family that owns a farm the size of Texas. You sell off a little bit of the farm and you don't see it," he said. Fifteen years ago, the U.S. had no trade deficit with China, he said. "Now it's $200 billion. If we don't change the course, the rest of the world could own $15 trillion of us. That's pretty substantial. That's equal to the value of all American stock," Buffett said.
Forbes' Chris Noone says -
Fixing the trade deficit--which soared to a record $665.9 billion in 2004, and is expected to top $700 billion this year--is becoming rather like turning around an ocean liner by dipping a teaspoon in the water.