Friday, February 28, 2003
"Vince Lombardi had one rule for the players when he was coaching the [Green Bay] Packers. If you're out drinking, always sit at a table, never at the bar. In the minds of the public, the man at a table was a gentleman enjoying a cocktail. The guy at the bar was a souse, a toss-pot, a wino."
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
"I am walking barefoot on broken glass and eggshells with this column. I know well enough how it will displease belligerent Zionists and those Muslims who hate Jews. Others too, probably, because these days, there is a preference for crude and simplistic postures à la George Bush. We all have to declare who we are for (absolutely), otherwise we are presumed to be the enemy. Just as the world becomes maddeningly complex, political and religious fundamentalists jostle for conscripts – people who will surrender their brains and their hearts to follow their leaders.>b?Some of us have, thus far, resisted this call of the sirens. We have, in small ways, crossed boundaries, entered the minds of "others", and found a deeper understanding of our common bonds and obligations to each other.
And, of course, it's in large part about the Jews:
"I see a direct connection between what we are threatening to do to Iraq and what we tolerate in Israel. I am becoming aware that this connection worries the Jewish [peace] group members. To them, there are other evil regimes (if I am honest, the vast number are in Islamic countries), and these human rights abusers get off without a mention. They may have a point. But as one of those Muslims who does not deny the right of Israel to exist (to its pre-1967 borders) and who has always been openly critical of our own societies, it is telling that today the iniquitous actions of Israel are consuming me. They illustrate too blatantly the arrogance of leaders who expect immunity because of the horrors of the Holocaust, the memories of which they betray.... Sharon is acting ever more like a licensed psychopath... you cannot have a credible debate about Iraq without direct and intellectually honest comparisons with Israel and other factors too, such as our complicity in keeping double standards for the two countries and the terrifying ambitions of Bush and Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, the enthusiastic pro-war American Jew.
I.e. even if there are Muslim countries where, at minimum, similar happens, and we're not condemning them, it's not anti-Semitic to only go on about Israel, because Sharon is a psychopath. Thanks for sharing.
Ah, my point... Yasmin wants to bring to our attention a noted peace activist:
"The papers should have blazoned this piece of news but didn't, so low is our esteem for such activities. This Thursday, a British woman, Dr Priscilla Elworthy of the Oxford Research Group, was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize – £100,000 – for her work on the resolution of conflicts through non-violent means. She brings together Chinese generals with Russian weapons designers, Pakistani and Indian warmakers, and today has radical plans on unseating Saddam to which Tony Blair should pay attention."
The Niwano Prize doesn't seem to be awarded for more than "dedication to the goal of peace", rather than success in bringing it about. And the idea of bringing Russian weapons designers together with Chinese generals seems particularly unwise. But the interesting part is the suggestion that there are "radical" (and hopefully plausible) alternatives to war.
Here's the Dr's suggestion:
"We need to examine the situation from the perspective of the needs and wishes of the key protagonists, because if these can be satisfied a way forward may become clear.
President Bush needs to be able to go into the next election with Saddam Hussein removed from power;
US oil interests want a figurehead government in Iraq, allowing them to pump 4-5 million barrels per day of Iraqi oil to Europe and North America;
The Russians want the oil to flow (to repay debts) as do the French;
The Pentagon wants a military victory in order for the US to be able to carry out anti al-Qaida operations without restrictions and to become the defining power in the Middle East and Persian Gulf;
European states like France, Germany and Italy, as well as countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran, do not want the US to be able to use Iraq as a base to extend control throughout the Arabian peninsula, with inevitable political and economic consequences;
Saddam Hussein wants to survive and hold on to power:
The Iraqi people, and there are few professionals or intelligentsia left, want food, medicine, dignity, to stay alive, and to regain control over their lives:
Many of the Iraqi diaspora would like to return, but are rightly afraid to do so:
OPEC members want to continue to negotiate prices for their oil.
A possible solution to these needs and wishes could lie in some version of the following. Saddam Hussein could be offered 'retirement', possibly outside Iraq in one of the countries so far mentioned such as Libya or Belarus. He is being strongly pushed toward the exile option, but he is unlikely to accept it. What he might accept would be to retire with his family within Iraq, perhaps to the vacation city 130km North of Baghdad known as Saddamiat Al-Tharthar, into which he has poured money and care. This option would require adequate policing and security guarantees, possibly to be provided by the UN. Some form of indictments would be put in place to detain members of the current Iraqi regime guilty of human rights violations. Saddam himself would know that if he left his refuge or manipulated politics in Baghdad he would immediately be arrested and tried for war crimes."
Now, whilst this does, of course, suggest that it's (mostly) all about the oiiiiiillllll, and also hints at worst-case ascriptions of US motives (is the US's goal to "extend control" meant to be what they want or what others fear, and what do we mean by "control" here anyway?). But it's a plausible "who wants what", and a resolution that meets pretty much everyone's goals to an acceptable degree, at an acceptable price.
"Saddam Hussein wants to survive and hold on to power:"
Pardon me for quibbling, but doesn't this remove the majority of his power base. Will he rule over this province of Iraq? If so, then this would be unacceptable to many of the other parties, particularly as the human rights contrast they would be signing off on would be stark. Further, Saddam has little reason to accept it. Dictators can't, I think, curl up in a ball and let the world pass them by. The level of repression needed to retain more than a small area under his rule whilst the rest of the country breathed free would surely be higher than that he needs to use now.
Alternatively, if he is out of power, why should he trust to his own safety, either from individuals or groups motivated to harm him (whatever the "private" security he could enjoy), or against the terms of the bargain changing once he lacked defences.
Finally, this does presuppose that faced with a choice between (a reasonable chance of) survival and (a modest prospect of continuing) power, Saddam would opt for the former. This may be true, but he's had 12 years to pick options that would have left him safe and pumping oil. He's not picked them, and that suggests that survival may not be top of his calculus.
The good Doc's pretty up on the position, and developed this idea after visiting Baghdad and talking with (one hopes) informed Westerners. But a) the most likely scenario to see him leave is when we've reached the very brink of war, so this isn't a "public" option, and b) there's been a modest "sounding out" on ideas like this, and no progress seems to have occurred.
So: this doesn't seem an alternative to plans for war, it's a single shot that doesn't meet other plausible interpretations of the aims of the players, and it's been mooted, and possibly tried in private, already. With Donald Rumsfeld not coming down on it too heavily. It's not exactly "radical".
Unlike one of the suggestions at another peace think tank I found looking for her article. Their plan:
"1) Iraq as a country has been brought into disrepute with the United Nations Security Council, yet nobody can prove that Iraq the country has done anything wrong. Its leader, Saddam Hussein is a different matter. One of the few things that is undisputed by both peace planners and Governments committed to war, is that Saddam Hussein should be brought to account for contempt of Security Council Resolutions (including 1441).
We propose an International Court Warrant for Husseins arrest . A sample can be found at;
Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Belgium : Translation Verbatim Record - CR 2001/8 - 17 October 2001 to be conducted by a UN special force armed troops. They shall carry the "compulsory jurisdiction of the ICJ court" Article 36, paragraph2, Statute of Court."
Um. Do the UN have "special force armed troops"? They have troops lent by various countries. How do you distinguish a force arresting the dictator of a heavily militarised country from its capital from an invasion? Do you think Saddam's approach will be different in the two cases? And why is a case by the Congo against the King of Belgium (heading on a century late to catch the direct perpetrator) a good example? Isn't this a great idea for getting some UN troops killed pretty fast?
Two ideas, neither very plausible, unless you have strong knowledge of the acceptability of either to Iraq. Keep suggesting things..
Monday, February 24, 2003
"Damn the chic health clubs and celebrity workout videos, these brothers take it to the streets to get their workout on. This groundbreaking, cutting edge video offers you an array of effective calisthenics using all the basic elements, including monkey bars, streetlights and their own body weight to get your body into tip top shape with no personal trainer required."
The box mentions that the exercises were developed and perfected working out in prison yards, for that 100% thug-life feel.
Buy now: as the reviewer says "this is a perfect gift for any fake thugs in your area. a glorification of things most people would be embaressed about" (like that spelling...).
"g) Telling me I'm a member of a secret cabal involving radio and television personalities you don't like. Think about this. If it's not true, I think "hmmm. . . what a jerk this writer is." And if it is true, I have my goon squad kill you. This one is just never a win."
Welcome back Jane.
Sunday, February 23, 2003
"ScrappleFace: U.N. Urges More Time for California Governor
(2003-02-23) -- In the face of a growing movement to recall California Governor Gray Davis, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has urged the state's voters to give Mr. Davis more time.
California citizens outraged at the financial mismanagement, which has the state $35 billion in debt and planning service cuts and tax increases, are working to gather the 897,158 signatures required to force a recall vote.
But Mr. Annan said United Nations members believe California's accounting history should be audited for several months first.
"We must inspect the records," he said. "As long as Governor Davis is willing to comply with the audits even a little bit, we should allow time for auditing to work.""