micah holmquist's irregular thoughts and links

Welcome to the musings and notes of a Cadillac, Michigan based writer named Micah Holmquist, who is bothered by his own sarcasm.

Please send him email at micahth@chartermi.net.

Holmquist's full archives are listed here.

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Sites Holmquist trys, and often fails, to go no more than a couple of days without visiting (some of which Holmquist regularly swipes links from without attribution)

Aljazeera.Net English
AlterNet (War on Iraq)
Alternative Press Review
Always Low Prices -- Always
Another Irani online
antiwar.com (blog)
Asia Times Online
Axis of Logic
Baghdad Burning (riverbend)
BBC News
blogdex.net ("track this weblog")
The Christian Science Monitor (Daily Update)
Common Dreams
Daily Rotten
Democracy Now
The Drudge Report
Eat the Press (Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post)
Empire Notes (Rahul Mahajan)
frontpagemag.com (HorowitzWatch)
Guardian Unlimited
The Independent
Information Clearing House
Informed Comment (Juan Cole)
Iranians for Peace

Iraq Dispatches (Dahr Jamail)
Iraqi Democrats Against Occupation
Iraq Occupation and Resistance Report (Psychoanalysts for Peace and Justice)
Mr. Show and Other Comedy
The Narco News Bulletin (blog)
The New York Times
Occupation Watch
Political Theory Daily Review
Press Action
Project Syndicate
Raed in the Middle (Raed Jarrar)
The Simpsons Archive
Simpsons Collector Sector
Technorati ("search for mth.blogspot.com")
United States Central Command
U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq
War Report (Project on Defense Alternatives)
The Washington Post
Wildfire (Jo Wilding)
wood s lot
www.mnftiu.cc (David Rees)

Blogs that for one reason or another Holmquist would like to read on at least something of a regular basis (always in development)

Thivai Abhor
As'ad AbuKhalil
Ken Adrian
Christopher Allbritton
Douglas Anders
Mark W. Anderson
Aziz Ansari
Atomic Archive
James Benjamin
Elton Beard
Charlie Bertsch
alister black
Blame India Watch
Blog Left: Critical Interventions Warblog / war blog
Igor Boog
Martin Butler
Chris Campbell
James M. Capozzola
Avedon Carol
Elaine Cassel
cats blog
Jeff Chang
Margaret Cho
Citizens Of Upright Moral Character
Louis CK
Les Dabney
Natalie Davis
Scoobie Davis
The Day Job
Jodi Dean
Dominic Duval
Steve Earle
Daniel Ellsberg
Tom Engelhardt
Lisa English
Barbara Flaska
Brian Flemming
Joe Foster
Yoshie Furuhashi
Al Giordano
Rob Goodspeed
Grand Puba
Guardian Unlimited Weblog
Pete Guither
The Hairy Eyeball
Ray Hanania
Mark Hand
Hector Rottweiller Jr's Web Log Jim Henley Arvin Hill Hit & Run (Reason) Hugo Clark Humphrey Indri The Iraqi Agora Dru Oja Jay Jeff Lynne d Johnson Dallas Jones Julia Kane Blues Benjamin Kepple Ken Layne Phil Leggiere Brian Linse Adam Magazine Majority Report Radio Marc Maron Josh Marshall Jeralyn Merritt J.R. Mooneyham Michael Scott Moore Bob Morris Bob Mould Mr. Show and Tell Muslims For Nader/Camejo David Neiwert NewPages Weblog Aimee Nezhukumatathil Sean O'Brien Patton Oswalt The Panda's Thumb Randy Paul Rodger A. Payne Ian Penman politx Neal Pollack Greg Proops Pro-War.com Pure Polemics Seyed Razavi Rayne Simon Reynolds richardpryor.com Clay Richards Mike Rogers Yuval Rubinstein
Steven Rubio
Saragon Noah Shachtman Court Schuett The Simpsons Archive Amardeep Singh Sam Smith Soundbitten Jack Sparks Ian Spiers Morgan Spurlock Stand Down: The Left-Right Blog Opposing an Invasion of Iraq Aaron Stark Morgaine Swann Tapped (The American Prospect) tex Matthew Tobey Annie Tomlin Tom Tomorrow The University Without Condition Jesse Walker Warblogger Watch Diane Warth The Watchful Babbler The Weblog we have brains Matt Welch
Alex Whalen
Jon Wiener
Lizz Winstead
James Wolcott
Wooster Collective
Mickey Z

Monday, September 30, 2002
Click here to see how "manhood" has changed, and how it has remained the same.

In the immortal words of Homer J. Simpson:

It's not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, but somehow I managed to fit in eight hours of TV a day.
In the summer of 2000 I ran this quote by Adrian and her response was, "Homer sures knows how to live."

It wasn't clear if she was being sarcastic.

It is good to see the U.S. is finally getting around to planning to bomb Antartica.

Sunday, September 29, 2002
Yossi Melman of Ha'aretz is reporting that only a few hundred grams of uranium were found yesterday in Turkey.

This isn't my area of expertise but this article from American Scientist indicates that one kilogram is needed for a bomb.

War continues.

Saturday, September 28, 2002
I hate to sound demanding but read this post by Douglas Anders. Do It Now!

MSU beat Northwestern, 39-24, in a game that ended just a few minutes ago.

Charles Rogers caught a touchdown pass for the 13th straight regular season game to set a new NCAA record. The rest of the offensive came along well with six other receivers catching balls and Dawan Moss rushing for over a 190 yards. Jeff Smoker was o.k. It is nice to think that he should have better games in it yet this season but whether those games will materialize or not is a legitimate question. The special teams played well and didn't screw anything up too badly -like they did against Northwestern last year- and the defensive was solid in what was probably that unit's best game this season.

Most importantly, it was a win.

I quoted Jim Henley in the previous entry and so it is nice to see that he has since written a post on the same topic. Henley makes two points that interest me. First:
For the next phase of the conflict over the conflict, UO sees two issues: First, the "soft opposition" to conquering Iraq is going to have to decide which way to jump. UO suspects that if you assign primacy to keeping weapons of some destruction out of the hands of Saddam Hussein, as many administration critics do, you're ultimately going to have to come down on the pro-war side.
No disagreement here. This is largely why I have argued that the anti-war activists should concentrate on the larger imperial plans of the White House.

Henley continues:

Long-term, any opposition to the war has to cluster around one of two sets of principles, which we'll tentatively - and tendentiously - call "pro-american" and "anti-american."

"Pro-American": Deterrence works in combination with a non-interventionist foreign policy; the risks of pursuing what amounts to an imperial foreign policy outweigh the risks of Iraq or any other international actor carrying through with a desire to attack the United States with weapons of - you know.

"Anti-American": The US does not deserve to be secure from other countries' arsenals; the US is a bigger "roque state" than Iraq or any other international actor; the proper US role is to put its wealth in the service of the "international community"; the US can not complain about any steps its victims decide they need to take in their struggle with American hegemony.

As Henley anticipates, I for one have problems with these labels. I am anti-war but consider myself to be neither pro- nor anti-American. Moreover, I agree with parts, but not all, of both positions.

I do believe that an interventionist foreign policy is the most sure way to assume that there are always going to be people who wish to attack the U.S. “Deterrence” via the U.S. military runs the risk of becoming imperial IMHO.

And I do believe the U.S. does “deserve to be secure from other countries' arsenals” but so does every other country. I do not believe that the U.S. has a greater right to not be threatened by other countries than do other countries and I believe that in attempting to prevent other countries from becoming or remaining a threat that the U.S. will have to be in a position to threaten other countries more than those countries can threaten the U.S. Preventing other countries from being a threat is unobtainable and attempting to reach that goal is necessarily unjust.

I also am of the opinion that other countries have a right to be a threat to the U.S. so long as the U.S. is a threat to them. Thus Iraq, in my estimation, has a right to nuclear weapons.

The practical definition of a “rogue state” is a state that the U.S. doesn’t like so I don’t think of the U.S. as being in that category, despite yesterday’s joke. I do believe that the U.S. is a greater threat to the population of the world than any other country not because it is more nefarious than every other country but rather because the U.S. is the only country with a realistic chance of putting its imperial ideology into practice around the world.

I don’t know what the “international community” is exactly and I have doubts about the U.S. being involved in such a project without trying to dominate it for its own interests.

Violent action against U.S. hegemony can be justified in my opinion although it is not always the smartest or effective move. At least as importantly, violence against the U.S. by opponents of U.S. hegemony is going to happen so long as the U.S. continues its attempt to more or less run the world. I have long believe that and my first reaction last year on September 11 to people wailing about “how could this happen?” was “Did you actually think something like this wasn’t going to happen?” If anything, I’m surprised by how little terrorism there is against the U.S.

It is tragic when civilians die but I don’t believe that U.S. citizens are justified in complaining about anything happening to Americans that the U.S. government has done to other people around the world. And I do believe that if killing U.S. civilians would lead to preventing the U.S. government from killing a greater number of people around the world, then killing the Americans would be justified. I am uncomfortable saying that both because I do not want to see Americans die and because the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 show that the average American and virtually no policy maker respond to seeing American civilians die by saying, “maybe we shouldn’t kill civilians.”

I’m not sure what “camp” I belong to or how many people share my beliefs. I think that all anti-interventionist sentiment is positive if only because limiting the imperial ambitions is a good thing. And yet Henley is right to say:

The problem for any effective antiwar movement will be, of course, that the two tendencies will instinctively despise each other. That can limit cooperation.
“Despise” might be a little bit strong but I will say that I am uncomfortable with arguments against intervention that depend solely on the risks that will be faced by members of the U.S. military and the U.S. public. Short of humanity’s elimination, the U.S. is able to match the damage that any country or group can do to it. Yes Americans might die but a lot of non-Americans will die if the U.S. continues its current foreign policy. And since I do not value the lives of Americans any more than those of non-Americans, I find that to be the larger issue.

I want to thank Henley for this excellent sketch of one issue faced by anti-interventionists. I would like to briefly expand on what he said by posing a question.

Conflicts between anti-interventionists are interesting but a separate, and perhaps more interesting, question is what can anti-interventionist movement do in the foreseeable in future to rein in the White House? In other words, what can stop Bush and those who follow him from regularly knocking off governments they don’t like and justifying it as a preemptive strike?

There isn’t an easy answer and yet it is a question that needs to be asked, and answered.

Reuters is reporting:
Turkish paramilitary police have seized more than 33 pounds of weapons-grade uranium and detained two men accused of smuggling the material, the state-run Anatolian news agency said on Saturday.

Officers in the southern province of Sanliurfa, which borders Syria and is about 155 miles from the Iraqi border, were acting on a tip-off when they stopped a taxi cab and discovered the uranium in a lead container hidden beneath the vehicle's seat, the agency said.

And later:
"Our investigation on whether the uranium was destined for a neighboring country is continuing," a Sanliurfa police official was quoted as saying by Anatolian.
Nonetheless Glenn Reynolds assumes that Iraq is involved and writes:
That's critical mass folks -- enough for a bomb all by itself. If this report holds up, it's a smoking gun. Not that we needed one, really, at this point, but. . . .
Reynolds deserves credit for acknowledging that he doesn’t believe evidence of any kind is necessary before the U.S. attacks another country. Still, there are two interesting things about his statement that don't jump right out.

First of all of all, like many Americans, Reynolds has completely bought into the idea that Iraq having or developing nuclear weapons –qualities that hardly make it unique- means that the U.S. has justification to attack.

Secondly, again like many Americans, Reynolds has a narrative in his head that Iraq is developing nuclear weapons and any evidence that could support that narrative is assumed to support that narrative. Hence, Reynolds responds to an article that says that the relevant law enforcement is still trying to determine where the uranium was destined for, by saying Iraq is to blame “If this report holds up.” The assumption is that Iraq is guilty and needs to prove its innocence.

There is a reason I rarely visit instapundit.com but I don’t mean to pick on Glenn Reynolds. It is true that, in the words of Jim Henley, “Reynolds is not just an interventionist but among the most important of them” but even more importantly these opinions are shared by many who don’t have weblogs read by thousands of people. But that is just the problem as all too many people accept that Iraq has to prove it shouldn’t be attacked for doing what plenty of other countries do. If this becomes the modus operandi of U.S. foreign policy –and that appears likely- then the U.S. will be beyond any doubt the bully of the world.

James M. Capozzola has noted a great Bush quote:
There’s no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There’s no doubt he can’t stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time.
Bill Hicks has been dead for over 8 and half years and yet much of his humor is as biting as ever:
I knew Clinton was one of the boys when he bombed Iraq, killing six innocent people, in retaliation for the failed assasination attempt of George Bush. You know what should have happened? We should have asassinated Bush and said, 'That's how you do it towelheads. Don't fuck with us!' And then... there would have been no loss of innocent life."
(From the "One of the Boys (Clinton)" track on Rant in E-Minor.)

Friday, September 27, 2002
Till now I haven't done any posts on today's protests in Washington D.C. because I don't have anything interesting to say about them and readers of this blog probably already knew about them. But I can't help but laugh at this entry by American Prospect's Tapped which suggests that the protesters focus "not in the street, but in the voting booth."

Say what you will about anarachists, anti-capitalists and anti-war activists but don't pretend that their concerns are addressed by either the Democrats or the Republicans. And given American Prospect's party line about Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign, it is clear they don't think third parties are an acceptable alternative. So their message to protesters amounts to go and support people you don't agree with on what you believe are the key issues.

Democracy can be an odd thing.

I'm often tempted to resort to hagiography when talking about Steve Earle. His comments in this AP story only solidify that tendency.

As for the article itself, it would have been better if whoever did this story to delve into Earle's importance as a musician by interviewing critics, fans or other musicians.

For a solid piece of journalism, head over to The Nation and read Ken Silverstein's look at how useless Pentagon's George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies is and why the center nonetheless exists. Silverstein is an excellent reporter and has an appreciation for the arts, hence the following line:
In theory, students are the cream of the Eastern European crop. In reality, many bring to mind Bluto Blutarsky of Animal House."
Silverstein has written more excellent articles than I care to count -although a search on the web will lead you to some of them- and the two books of his that I've read, Washington on $10 Million a Day: How Lobbyists Plunder the Nation and Private Warriors, are both informative and easy to read. I suggest them without reservation.

Brendan O'Neill tends to write lengthy and serious pieces for Spiked. However, his latest effort, "We think there's a link...," is a short and funny look at the claims coming from the Bush Administration that you know who and you know who are connected.

Iraq's bioweapons have an American quality to them, reports Robert Novack of the Chicago Sun-Times.

"The Bush administration's push for a congressional expression of support for disarming Saddam Hussin is being slowed by Democratic concerns about a blank check to wage war," writes Barry Schweid of the AP.

Of course it could be said that war against Iraq is ongoing and has been for a number of years.

I have no reason to complain given how much this page costs me but it would be nice if my entries from June, July and August weren't trying to hide.

"Time to Bomb Iran?," asked James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal yesterday after linking to a story about al-Qaida camps in Iran.

“Time to Bomb the United States or just Buffalo?,” asks Micah Holmquist.

"Time to Bomb Iran?," asked James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal yesterday after linking to a story about al-Qaida camps in Iran.

"The University of California at San Diego has ordered a student organization to delete hyperlinks to an alleged terrorist Web site, citing the recently enacted USA Patriot Act," writes Declan McCullagh of CNET News.com in a story well worth reading.(Thanks to Phil Leggiere for the link.)

I don't advocate this but it would amusing on some level if universities in other countries prohibited their students from linking to U.S. government pages.

In a article dated today Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service writes:
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this morning the link between al Qaeda terrorists and Iraq is "accurate and not debatable."
No comment needed.

Deborah Zabarenko of Reuters is reporting that Secrety of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in Atlanta today arguing for military action against Iraq.

Zabarenko says that Rumsfeld compared attacking Iraq the actions of John F. Kennedy that lead to the Cuban Missile Crisis and quotes Rumsfeld as saying:

"(Kennedy) decided to engage in pre-emptive action -- preventative action, self-defense, call it what you wish -- and he went out and blockaded ... them, put the world into a very tense, dangerous, among the most dangerous of my lifetime, circumstances, and prevailed because he did take preventative action," Rumsfeld said. "So I don't think it's a new thing."
This is a good point and yet not very convincing. Leaving aside the obvious difference between prevening a country from placing weapons in a particular place and taking over a country, the Cuban Missile Crisis was provoked by an understandable desire by the U.S. to have a military advanatage over the Soviet Union -the U.S. already had nuclear weapons near Turkey's border with what was the Soviet Union- that was justified by hypocritical means since the U.S. did not publicly acknowledge that the Soviets were just seeking parity of weapons placement. This is a lot like the hypocritical ways in which people in the U.S. justify trying to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of other countries.

And while it is true that Kennedy was not implying that he had the intentions of going around the world overthrowing governments the U.S. didn't like, Seymour Hersh makes it clear in his excellent book The Dark Side of Camelot that the 35th President was interested and involved in such actions and arguably obsessed with removing Fidel Castro from power.

The Cuban Missile Crisis stemmed from the imperial desires of the U.S. every bit as much as the Bush Adminstrations plans for invading Iraq do now. It is too bad Rumsfeld can't just be honest about it.

Speaking of Colin Powell and "linkage," I seem to be behind the times. On September 15 the Secretary of State said:
There is no question that there are some linkages between the Iraqi regime and al-Qaida, but so far I haven't seen anything that would give you a linkage to 9/11. We don't rule it out. We are constantly examining the information that comes to us, but there is no direct linkage between the regime in Baghdad and 9/11 yet.
IMHO this just adds currency to the speculating I did yesterday here and here.

The No Evidence Needed Singers

Secretary of State Colin Powell has joined Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld in a song about Iraq's ties to al Qaeda. Powell made the claim the yesterday in testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

I've been unsucessfully looking since last night for Powell's exact testimony -if anybody knows where it is, please send me a message pointing out where it is- but the AP's Robert Burns writes:

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "there is evidence of a linkage" between Iraq and al-Qaida. He said he was unaware of any Iraqi link to the Sept. 11 terror attacks but would not dismiss the possibility.
A story in today's Washington Post by Karen DeYoung raises some doubts about how strong evidence of "linkage" really is.

On a similar note, Calvin Woodward of the AP has a piece out today that points out that the Bush Administration has regularly used dubious claims to bolsters the case for war against Iraq.

And I'm left assuming that Team Bush is about to go after the KLA.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
I've thought of another possible explanation for why the Bush Administration is not playing up its accusation that Iraq and al-Qaida are connected.

I've argued in numerous entries, including "Imperial Ambitions" and "Stop Debating Iraq," that the Bush Adminstration is setting a precedent that will allow it and future administrations to attack just about any country they want to attack on the grounds that the United States has the absolute right to control other countries. Althought this might sound like a wild idea, I have back up these entries with the actual documents and statements of the White House. Team Bush hasn't come right out and told the world that they are becoming a full fledged empire in the classical sense but neither have they been hiding it.

Critical to this project is the idea that the U.S. should be attacking countries that have not attacked the U.S. Connecting al-Qaida to the government of Iraq might not technically be the same as connecting the Iraqi government to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks but my guess is that few Americans care to know the difference. Making the connection does bolster Bush's case for conquering Iraq but it also ties the administration to the old-fashion idea of waging war against countries that have first attacked the U.S. or at least intend to attack the U.S. Nearly four months after first arguing for premptive strikes against countries and groups that could potentially harm the U.S., Bush might not want to give up on the argument that the U.S. should attack Iraq because Iraq could be a threat.

There are of course other enemies in the world but none of them -not even Fidel Castro- have been as effectively made into a demon as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Nobody doubts that he is a bad guy and the idea that there might be some logic to his actions isn't considered by most. In other words, if Bush doesn't convince the U.S. Congress and public that Hussein shoudl be overthrown because he could be a threat, who can Bush safely assume he can convincingly make such an agrument about? And if Bush can't make that argument or get the congress and public to just accept the U.S. regularly taking over countries without proof of a threat, then the whole empire project is off.

The more I think about it, the more I come to believe that this is most likely explanation.

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice is now saying there is a connection between the Iraqi government and al-Qaida.

In theory this is really big news and it is for that very reason that I'm especially skeptical. Rice is very vague and alludes to this knowledge of these ties only coming to light recently. It seems to me that this very big news and if President Bush were to play it right, big enough news to convince 99 or so percent of the country of the need to bomb Iraq into some rhetorical age. And yet this information is only coming out slowly. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld alluded to it on Tuesday and then Rice went into more detail yesterday. Maybe there is no plan and maybe the administration is playing their cards close. Or maybe they are just making this up and figure they will get away with it if they don't make too big of a deal out of it.

To be fair their might be some other reason for the administration not publicizing this harder but given that Bush is currently trying to get congressional authorization for attacking Iraq, it would seem that connecting Iraq with a group that just about everybody agrees needs to be defeated military would be something that Bush and friends wouldn't hesisitate on.

"President Bush said Thursday he is close to an agreement with Congress to "speak with one voice" against Saddam Hussein. But Democratic leaders, still bristling at White House criticism, said there's no consensus on an anti-Iraq resolution," writes Jim Abrams of the Associated Press.

Lewis Lapham's response to being called an "internal threat" to the United States seems to be about right. (Thanks to Cursor for the link.) This prestigious title was reportedly given to Lapham by Americans for Victory Over Terrorism, an upstanding group also concerned about the threat coming from the subversive’s subversive Jimmy Carter.

In what shouldn't be a shock, Lapham is one of my favorite essayists and the editor of Harper's, one of the my favorite magazines.

Given that Matthew Yglesias believes the point of U.S. policy towards Iraq is bring better governance to that country, I guess I shouldn't be suprised to read that he doesn't think it is possible to be critical of Middle Eastern dictatorships without believing that the U.S. should go in and take over those countries. And I suppose the fact that the U.S. has supported and continues to support many countries in that region that are not governed by western values is also lost on him.

Phil Leggiere's Noosphere Blues has a focus on music and politics and appears to be a cool blog. (Thanks to Douglas Anders for the link.)

I've been debating how to respond to this post from Douglas Anders.

Despite my half-serious, half-comical frustration with Anders repeatedly spelling my name wrong -wink, wink-, I don't want matters to turn hostile as I think Anders is a very intelligent guy and do share his concerns. But, having said all that, I feel the need to say something.

Seven days ago I wrote:

Funny how it is o.k. for the U.S. and Great Britain to have nuclear weapons for defensive purposes but Iraq could only possilbly want them for offensive purposes.
Anders replied:
Saddam has shown by his past actions that he probably would use them for offensive purposes, and even if he did not, I don't think that Iran would take that chance. I'm not sure that I would say that it's o.k. for the US to have nuclear weapons, but I would rather that we have them than Saddam. We haven't gassed our own people or invaded our neighbors. Also, the development and deployment of the US nuclear forces had a geopolitical rationale: Stalinism was damned scary. But when countries like Iraq attempt to develop or buy them, it usually isn't for detente. The US didn't really understand what we were developing when we started, and we had good strtegic reasons for doing so. But any nation that goes through the effort and cost to acquire nuclear weapons today know just what they can do, and the leaders of those nations know exactly how they would use them. And right now, it's damned scary that Pakistan has them, since god only knows who is going to be in charge of that country in six months.
I don't want to downplay the legitmate fears that people have about nuclear proliferation. The world would be a better place if nuclear weapons did not exist.

And yet they do and no amount of canvassing for Peace Action is going to change that. And so the question becomes what are you going to do?

As I've argued before, it makes sense for the U.S. to try to limit the number of countries with nuclear capabilities if the U.S. wants to preserve its military advantage and it is also normal for other countries to want nukes to end the advantage of the U.S. in that area. Seeking to prevent other countries from having nuclear weapons thus, IMHO, strengthens the U.S. military advantage and, given the White House's imperial ambitions, this is something I want no part of.

Others, including Anders, no doubt disagree with me. My question to these people is what criteria should a country have to meet if it is allowed to have nuclear weapons?

Just in case, I also try to keep a missile in reach.

Would I feel bad if this actually happened?

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
"Punished" is a rather funny word.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Rummys says so

A report by Gerry J. Gilmore of the American Forces Press Service reads:

WARSAW, Poland, Sept. 24, 2002 -- There's a connection between Iraq, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told reporters here today.

Speaking with reporters after a day of bilateral and informal ministerial meetings with NATO officials, Rumsfeld was asked if there is a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.

He answered, "Oh, certainly, there is."

I could not find another mention of this exchange.

Tony Blair's dossier on Iraq makes for interesting reading but does not contextualization whatsoever. It is normal for Iraq to want nuclear weapons and lots of countries abuse human rights.

Why do I have a feeling that yesterday's speech by Al Gore is going to prompt some hawks to call Gore a peacenik pacifist traitor?

Monday, September 23, 2002
Earlier today I found out that the great German bassist Peter Kowald passed away on Saturday in New York City. Kowald played with many musicians since the 1960s but is undoubtedly best know for his work with Peter Brotzmann. I have begun to listen to my meager collection of recordings featuring Kowald and now regret that I never saw him live.

I do have one interesting to thing to say about Kowald right now. Last year, in June, I was talking to thealchemist about the type of music I listen to and she said, "You mean like the German bassist Peter... I forget his last name." She wasn't a fan of improv and wasn't sure where she had heard of him but it was clear who she was talking about. I guess his music really was heard.

[from this message board]


First of all I wan to apologize for the delay in writing a response. This is in response to this post and this one.

You question that he's developing WMD in order to use them. Let's set up a little logical experiment: If you were Saddam and you knew that weapons inspectors wanted to make sure you didn't have WMD (under the threat of force), would you
a) develop WMD for the purposes of not using them, under the realization that you might be attacked for doing so
b) not develop WMD in order to not be attacked
c) develop WMD for the purpose of using them

Choice a is clearly not rational. Choice b is not factual (though it's a rational choice). Choice c is left.

I reject these three options. Since Saddam Hussein has not done anything that a host of other countries, including the United States, haven’t done before and yet finds that he is the consistent enemy of the U.S. since 1990, it makes sense to me that he might develop WMD for the deterrence factor. The U.S., and perhaps Iran and/or Israel, want to attack Iraq and so WMD are just a way of decreasing the likelihood of such attacks. The U.S. and Great Britain justify their nukes for this reason so what is the problem with Iraq doing so?

[me] There are lots of dictators in the world. What makes Hussein special?

[you]The fact that he wants to develop WMD in order to use them. Mugabe is a sh*thead, but that doesn't make him dangerous to other sovereign countries.

I guess we just disagree on this point.

[me] Most people want to be free
[you]That's not an excuse for not acting. In fact, the Arab world is the region of the world which has most been spared from democratizing any part of its institutions. Latin America democratized recently (to some degree or another, in most countries - and other qualifiers as needed). The march of democracy has been gradual, but it's natural to turn to a region whose lack of democracy has just leveled the WTC.

To what extent should the U.S. be in the business of dictating to other countries how they are to run their affairs given the existing conditions? And if the U.S. had the power to make every country a democracy at gunpoint, would the U.S. be justified in doing so?

[me] They don't identify with Hussein (or any other nation state, for that matter) so what is the message to them?

[you]I believe that there is evidence that they do. You don't have to agree, but there's the Prague-Atta thing. The anthrax. The WTC I bombing terrorist in Iraq. The other co-conspirators in Oklahoma City.

The first example s weak evidence but admittedly evidence. The rest of this does not in any way implicate Hussein or his government in the activities of Al Qaeda.

The fact that Saddam and Osama share a surprising number of similar issues - and they rank them in the same order, and declare them at similar times.

Can you give some examples of the “similar times”? As for agreeing on a number of matters, yes they do but they also disagree on some issues including the role of religion in governance.

The reasonable supposition that Osama/Al Qaeda are actually Saddam's undercover intelligence agency (Laurie Mylroie has a book about this, available at Amazon).

Well I don’t think that is a reasonable supposition given what I do know. I haven’t read Laurie Mylroie’s book so I can’t comment on its accuracy. What I can say is that there is a larger issue of Al Qaeda believe in Islamic theocracy while Hussein’s government is secular.

In terms of message: Hussein was able to say that he stood up the super-power and survived. Bin Laden was able to say the same thing after the Embassy bombings in Tanzania/Kenya, the USS Cole, etc. Bin Laden may not be able to say that now, and it's certainly in US interests to say that Hussein is not able to say that.

John Kennedy could have said the same thing. Ditto Ronald Reagan. Are we to assume that the Democrats and Republicans are conspiring with Iraq and Al Qaeda?

Bragging about standing up to a powerful foe is a time honored tradition throughout the world.

[me]I oppose fascism and Islamic fundamentalism. That doesn't mean I think the U.S. should be running the world.

[you] So what would you do?

I guess give what aid I can to forces that I agree with who oppose such movements.

By the way, I also oppose gun control and yet do not advocate the U.S. should take over Great Britain. I don't think Uncle Sam imposing the president's will on other countries is an acceptable means of accomplishing anything.

Incidentally, attacking Iraq in no way implies that the US is running the world.

Well I do believe it is the first step in a process.

And many people who say the US shouldn't act as the world's policeman freely criticize the US when it doesn't act fast enough (remember Hutus and Tutsis?).

For the record, I do not criticize the U.S. for not acting in Rwanda, however tragic that situation was. What I will do is point out that the U.S. did not use that tragedy as a reason to intervene and I believe the reason for this is that it was not in the economic and/or military interests of the U.S. to do so.

Seymour Hersh looks at the case of Zacarias Moussaoui in this week's New Yorker.

Like every article by Hersh, this one is worth reading.

Jim Henley writes:
The party that took us to war on behalf of the al Qaeda-connected Kosovo Liberation Army is simply not the timber from which one can build an antiwar house.
He's talking about the Democratic Party. If you didn't know, keep in mind this would be news to Andrew Sullivan and The Wall Street Journal if they ever stopped seeing the Democrats as the embodiment of evil long to deal with some facts.

Henley, being a libertarian, comes to this conclusion out of a belief that "Both the Democrats and Republicans are fundamentally government parties." [Italicization in the original.]

There is a lot of good to be said in the libertarian critique of war but Henley's formulation seems odd as most political parties at least have apirations to government. Some want to do more or less or just different things with state power but they do want it. Rather what unites the Democrats and the Republicans is a belief that somebody should be in the business of running of the world. They have minor disagreements on who should do it and how it should be done, but they agree that it should be done in what they see as the interests of the U.S. And on the bulk of the questions, they agree on how it should be done.

Yesterday's New York Times had an article in it by Adam Liptak about a proposed amendment to the constitution of South Dakota, which would allow defendants in criminal cases to admit they are guilty but argue that the law(s) they are guilty of violating are unjust. Voters in the state will vote on the amendment in November.

Nobody knows for sure to what extent this already happens but it is believed by many who study or are involved in the criminal justice system that juries already refuse to convict people they believe are guilty because they believe that a conviction would nonetheless be unjust. The practice is called jury nullification and it has a long history in western legal traditions. It is also one way that in theory juries can act to curb the power of legistlators, prosecutors and members of law enforcement.

For more on the proposed South Dakota amendment check out the actual language of the amendmentand commonsensejustice.us, a site put together by proponents of the amendment. I couldn't find any sites dedicating to opposing the amendment. For more on jury nullification, go to google's set of links on jury powers.

I want to thank Sassafrass Log for linking both to "Stop debating Iraq" and to mth.blogspot.com. I'm not sure how to link exactly to the link but the links to me were added on Saturday. Do check out the log as there are a lot of links to interesting pages.

Today's New York Times features an interesting article by David F. Gallagher on problems, and, to a lesser extent, the benefit of journalists who have web logs.

It is a good story but it would have been nice if Gallagher has talked with people like Ken Layne and Matt Welch, who I believe have actually gained additional jouranlism work as a result of their blogs. Hopefully those two will comment on their blogs.

The final paragraph of Gallagher's piece reads:

Sheila Lennon, a producer at the Web site of The Providence Journal, believes she has found a way to maintain the line between her professional and personal Web log. She publishes a blog on the paper's site and maintains a personal Web log at lennon2.com. Even on the personal site, Ms. Lennon steers clear of anything that might compromise her objectivity. "I don't belong to a political party," she said. "And I don't publish every thought I have on my personal Web log."
For the record, there are plenty of interesting thoughts in my head and compelling web pages that I run across that I don't link to. Most of this is just self-editing as part of an attempt to not spend my entire life blogging. (One of the few things that I find interesting about instapundit.com is just how much time Glenn Reynolds spends blogging and how his blogging appears to be throughly integrated into his life.)

As far as objectivity goes, I have mixed feelings about this. Part of me feels that objectivity can not really be achieved and that it is best to be open about that. At the same time good journalism, much like good essay writing (which may or may not be journalism), IMHO requires a refusal to ignore facts and a commitment to turn a critical eye to everything. In other words, a good journalist, no matter how opinionated, recognizes and is critical of all information. The point is try to find the truth and not present the world, or the details of the particular story, to be more specific, as neither any more nor any less complicated than they actually are. A failure to do this is as likely to show up in an AP report or a Reuters story as it is in the pages of The Nation or The Weekly Standard.

BTW, at lennon2.com I found this entry by Lennon about the New York Times story, which also included a link to Gallagher's blog.

Over at The Atlantic you can read a piece by James Fallows about what might happen once the United States has conquered Iraq. It is provocatively entitled “The Fifty-first State?

Sunday, September 22, 2002
Yesterday I got spam asking that I invest in "heating oil." The subject line read, " Bomb'em once again!"

Saturday, September 21, 2002
For a couple of minutes there, I thought my beloved Spartans would beat Notre Dame for the sixth straight year. But in the end, Notre Dame won, 21-17, after scoring on 60 yard touchdown with less than 90 seconds.

The MSU defensive played very well. There were some big mistakes but overall that unit played well. Receiver Charles Rogers had a tremendous game with two catches for touchdowns and showed a lot of resiliency after being injured late in the fourth quarter. I haven’t ever seen a college football player who is more exciting when he is playing his best. But then again Rogers dropped a couple of balls at key times.

One could complain about pass interference calls that the officials made and didn’t make but the truth is that the Spartans could easily have won the game. An interception that lead to a Notre Dame score late in the second half and a poor job on third down conversions cost them this game and they have nobody to blame for that but themselves.

Still MSU played hard and I wasn’t sure that would be the case after last week. In the past they have responded to big losses with even worse play. (Of course they have responded to big win with poor play as well.) It will be interesting to see what happens next week with Northwestern as well as for the rest of the season.

O.K. now is the time for Micah to reread the essay he wrote a little over two years ago and remember that he has a tendency to take spectator sports too seriously.

It is halftime and Notre Dame is leading my beloved Michigan State football team by a score of 14 to 3. I remember hearing something about this team having a good offense but it is foggy.

Brendan O'Neill has posted a good critique of leftist conspiracy theorists.

I want to thank the operator of jellybeans.blogspot.com for throwing a link my way in "the pundits" category. Do check out that wonderful blog, which has had a number of good posts on feminism lately, including "Feminism is a Dirty Word."

Friday, September 20, 2002
From an American Forces Press Service by Kathleen T. Rhem:
"It is strange that some seem to want to put the burden of proof on us," [Defense Secretary] Rumsfeld said in testimony prepared for appearances before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. "The burden of proof ought to be on him, to prove he has disarmed, to prove he no longer poses a threat to peace and security."
Oh I don't know maybe it has something to do with the fact that it is Rummy and friends who want to go to war.

Later in the article:

"I suspect that, in retrospect, most of those investigating 9/11 would have supported preventive action to pre-empt that threat if it had been possible to see it coming," Rumsfeld said.

Now, Rumsfeld contended, the United States has more information on Iraq's capabilities and proclivities than was available before Sept. 11, even in retrospect.

Compare the scraps of information the government had on Iraq before Sept. 11 to the volumes it has today, factor in America's demonstrated vulnerability after Sept. 11 and, "the case the president made should be clear," Rumsfeld said in prepared testimony for a Sept. 18 House hearing.

Saddam's pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, his previous use of those weapons, his record of aggression and his consistent hostility toward the United States, Rumsfeld said, should be enough to justify pre-emptive military action without the United States providing further evidence.

None of this "evidence" indicates that Iraq is a threat but I suppose such logical analysis is out of place in this day and age.

In other word, the sanctity of the U.N. is not absolute

"The American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, has said the United States will find ways to stop weapons inspectors going back to Iraq unless there is a new United Nations Security Council resolution on the issue," writes the BBC.

"A key piece of evidence in the Bush administration's case against Iraq is being challenged in a report by independent experts who question whether thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes recently sought by Iraq were intended for a secret nuclear weapons program," writes Joby Warrick in a story in yesterday's edition The Washington Post.

Imperial Ambitions

President Bush has asked Congress for the power to go to war and the resolution shows he is asking for pretty much a blank check based on facts that don't add up. (Thanks to Jim Henley for the second link.)

Much is made of September 11, 2001 and yes there were terrrorist attacks against the United States last year on September 11 but the Bush Administration is no longer claiming Iraq was connected to those attacks. There might be operatives of the group Bush has blamed for those attacks but that doesn't mean they are working with the Iraqi government. Furthermore, as I noted on August 21, al Qaida operatives have allied with U.S. allies in the Balkans so if this justification has any merit the U.S. needs to do a lot of rethinking of its policies and practices.

The document also makes a lot out of Iraq's violations of United Nations resolutions as if no other country had ever violated a U.N. resolution and that the U.N. was some independent body in matters of war and peace that could stand up to any country. (I took care of that myth in "Was the United States post September 11 just a Dress Rehearsal?")

But by far the most important section of the document is:

Whereas the United States has the inherent right, as acknowledged in the United Nations Charter, to use force in order to defend itself;

Whereas Iraq’s demonstrated capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction, the high risk that the current Iraqi regime will either employ those weapons to launch a surprise attack against the United States or its Armed Forces or provide them to international terrorists who would do so, and the extreme magnitude of harm that would result to the United States and its citizens from such an attack, combine to justify the use of force by the United States in order to defend itself...

In other words the U.S. has the right to defend itself but Iraq doesn't even after years of bombings and sanctions. The second paragraph is backed up by no evidence but I suppose that isn't necessary becasue Bush knows the U.S. are the good guys and Iraq are the bad guys.

If I sound angry about this, it is because I am. The Bush administration is trying to change U.S. foreign policy so that it is explicitly about controlling the world. Bush first outlined the policy in June and, to the credit of him and his advisors, has now issued "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America," a document explaining the strategy in more detail. The basic message is that the U.S. reserves the right to attack any country or group that could become a threat. Since any country and many a group could become a threat, this isn't a workable strategy and so decisions over who to go after will undoubtedly be based on political and economic interests. And the process is going to be secretive. On August 16 Bush said this about debates about Iraq:

Listen, it's a healthy debate for people to express their opinion. People should be allowed to express their opinion. But America needs to know, I'll be making up my mind [as to what to do regarding Iraq] based upon the latest intelligence and how best to protect our own country plus our friends and allies.
If the exact reasons for military actions are not to be divulged what is to stop Bush, or one of his sucessors, from just attacking a country without any public justification? The answer, I fear, is nothing.

Team Bush has long wanted to build a a "global Pax Americana" -Neil Mackay of the Sunday Herald has recently reported that Bush's advisors and family wrote such a document well before September 11, 2001- and now it looks like they are going to get their wish.

This is the makings of an empire and opposing it in any meaningful way is not going to be easy. It would be nice if Congress rejected Bush's request for the authorization of the use of force against Iraq but it isn't going to happen. Bush has been smart enough to cloak his desires in getting Iraq to comply with international law and it seems even civil disobedients want that.

The advice I gave in "Stop Debating Iraq" about focusing on the larger picture of what Bush and company are doing seems more relevant than ever and yet I doubt it will make any difference. About the only thing that is going to stop this exercise in empire building is if it becomes something that, due to both internal and external pressures, the White House simply can not build.

Today I got a piece of spam trying to get me to invest in some credible scheme. The subject line read, "Bomb Iraq 6718pOcd8-774qvAP5505EOmU9--25."

This evening I saw a minivan with two bumperstickers. One read:
The other:
For once I actually believe the latter message.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
I'm not a big fan of this family

President Bush and Princess Diana are distant relatives.

Well I suppose many of us are distant relatives...

Over at The Sun, Trevor Kavanagh writes:
AMERICA will NUKE Baghdad if Saddam Hussein dares unleash weapons of mass destruction, it emerged last night.

The chilling warning to Iraq was revealed by former Tory Premier John Major, who led Britain in the 1991 Gulf War.

During that conflict, allied forces were armed with “battlefield” nuclear weapons and prepared to use them in a counter attack, he said.

Saddam was privately warned his capital would be obliterated if he used weapons of mass destruction against allied troops or Middle East targets — including Israel.

And senior security sources last night confirmed Saddam has been warned AGAIN of the consequences if he breaks the ban on using terror weapons.

Funny how it is o.k. for the U.S. and Great Britain to have nuclear weapons for defensive purposes but Iraq could only possilbly want them for offensive purposes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Is it just me or does Rumsfeld sound anxious for war?

"Brain Cited in 'Out-of-Body' Claims" is piece worth reading by Joseph B. Verrengia of the AP.

do I have fans?

Somebody did a search on google for micah holmquist Steve Earle.

I want to thank Jim Henley for plugging me as well as a link to Brendan O'Neill's new site.

In case you didn't know, Henley and O'Neill are two of the most interesting bloggers out there.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
leave your thoughts early and often

Comments are now back up thanks to YACCS.

Click here for the old comments.

George W. Bush says the United Nations shouldn't trust Saddam Hussein and Tom Daschle says Congress will vote on Iraq "well before the election."

My latest contribution to HorowitzWatch is "They Must be the Same."

O.K. I really don't understand what is happening as everything seems to be going haywire. I don't have any more time right now but will return to getting this blog fixed soon.

My archives for June, July and August are hiding at the moment but click on the month and you will find them.

I'm not sure what happened but I was unable to publish for the last couple days and now am back to being able to do so basically by rebuilding the html. All features -like I really have a lot of them- will hopefully soon return.

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The current edition of Newsweek includes "How Saddam Happened," an informative article by Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas.

Over at nationalreview.com, Doug Bandow writes:
ormer Vice President Al Gore is apparently on the hunt for votes for his prospective presidential campaign. He criticized the Bush administration on just about every ground at a dinner hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus Saturday night. But his greatest moment of unintended hilarity came when he charged that Attorney General John Ashcroft "is not respectful of civil liberties."

That's actually true. And Gore was right when he argued: "I believe one of the test of our nation is whether in times of grave challenge, we have the courage to be true to our deepest principles."

But while these are legitimate sentiments-whether you agree with them or not — it's a bit curious to see them come from someone in the Clinton-Gore administration. After all, William Jefferson & Company perfected the practice of jackboot liberalism.

The whole piece is worth reading although I find it curious that Bandow doesn't mention the 1994 Crime Bill, a draconian piece of legistlation that most Republicans had not problem with save for the provisions involving guns.

365 days ago I wrote "Lucky Dog."

I love Lucky very much and I always will.

Iraq has said United Nations weapons inspectors can come back in to the country, a move that is sure to permanently halt Washington's imperial drive to war. Keep in mind, it is not as if the United States bombed Iraq yesterday or anything.

Seriously, last Thursday, Bush said there were a lot of conditions that Iraq had to meet to avoid war:

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it, as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi'a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkomans, and others, again as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will release or account for all Gulf War personnel whose fate is still unknown. It will return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait, and fully cooperate with the international efforts to resolve these issues, as required by Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all illicit trade outside the oil-for-food program. It will accept U.N. administration of funds from that program, to ensure that the money is used fairly and promptly for the benefit of the Iraqi people.

Since Iraq is unlikely to do all of these things no matter what happens with weapons inspectors, Bush still has plenty of room to justify war. The U.N. might not think all of these issues are a justified reasons for war but its support has never been Bush's primary concern.

It is thus far from shocking to see that Bush and friends have rejected the offer.

Monday, September 16, 2002
I agree with the point that Phil Mushnick makes about the WWE in this column for the New York Post and have no opinion on the other things that he says but what I really love is that he quotes Ralph Wiggum.

"MTV Decides to Censor Public Enemy," writes Deniece Mason of hiphopdx.com.

Basically MTV edited out mentions of Mumia Abu-Jamal.

For all intents and purposes, I'm bored with FReepers but I have gotten a view hits via this thread.

I do want to make it clear that I did not argue for nuclear proliferation in "All Nations –including Iraq- want Nuclear Weapons." Rather I said it was natural for every country without nuclear weapons to want them and for countries that already have nuclear weapons to not want other countries to join the club but that the arguments used to make this last point in the U.S. are hypocritical.

maybe the Saudis don't deserve a democracy

"The Saudi foreign minister indicated this weekend that his country would let the United States use its military bases in a United Nations-backed attack on Iraq, a sign that Arab nations may be dropping their resistance to an attack on Saddam Hussein," writes Todd S. Purdum of the New York Times.

According to my counter, yesterday -a day with virtually no content- I received over 30 hits. Thanks to everybody who stopped by, has stopped by or will stop by. My readership may not be huge but it is a lot bigger than it was on say July 2.

Sunday, September 15, 2002
Do guns have daughters?

Saturday, September 14, 2002
Earlier today California beat Michigan State, 46-22.

California was up 25-0 at halftime and it looked liked the MSU offense and special teams units could nothing right and everything wrong. The defense played o.k. in the game as a whole but nothing spectacular.

It is far too early to start waxing poetically about the Spartans, although that time will no doubt come, but this is the 17th season that I've followed Michigan State football and today was the first time I saw a team score on a penalty. California got a safety in the second quarter due to an offensive holding penalty. I don't understand and I'm not sure I want to.

The "People's Council" is an interesting development in Mexico City. Jo Tuckman reports for the Houston Chronicle.

Check out this post from Lisa English and then go pray to President George W. Bush, America's Lord and Savior.

I recommend doing so at least three times a day, preferably while driving a Chevy Suburban.

Friday, September 13, 2002
Pejman Yousefzadeh wants to start a progam called "Adopt-A-Bomb," which would be just want the name suggests.

I hope he is trying to be funny but the idea seems just far too much like what I suspect many U.S. citizens would like their contribution to the war effort to constitute. For better or worse, you can get the prices from Dack's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me."

"Adopt-A-Bomb" won't have much impact on the troop shortage, although that is probably what would make it so attractive.

Yesterday I linked to a page with some personal information about Spoons, who was understandably not happy with me. I was wrong to include the link, which has since been removed, and I have said so and apologized to Spoons.

I have no intention of defending the indefensible but I will say I had no intention of threatening, harassing or harming Spoons in anyway. Rather I was just thoughtless.

In today's Chicago Sun-Times Robert Novack writes:
'We are stretched, really stretched,'' a senior U.S. Army combat commander told me. The 10 divisions that constitute the sole surviving superpower's fighting strength are scarcely able to handle today's responsibilities, much less a full-scale war in Iraq. What's more, a pre-emptive strike against Baghdad may only be the first of such military ventures.
The entire piece is worth reading. I have to wonder what the public's reaction would be if the draft were reinstated. (Thanks to Yuval Rubinstein for the link.)

Thanks to the web you can read the Bush Administration's report "A Decade of Deception and Defiance" about a certain country that has faced a lot of bombings and sanctions.

Today's Washington Post features a story by Dana Priest and Joby Warrick about the report entitled "Observers: Evidence For War Lacking: Report Against Iraq Holds Little That's New."

Lisa English has linked to and quoted fromWas the United States post September 11 just a Dress Rehearsal?” Most importantly though, she spelled my name right and wrote “Yup, yup and more yup.”

eat a cupcake for me!

Today marks the four-month anniversary of the start of mth.blogspot.com. Prior to that, I’d been posting to micahth.diaryland.com for a little over a year.

When I reread the first entry at micahth.diaryland.com, I’m struck by how I had no real plan for what I wanted that log to be. I just thought it would be cool to have one. The tone and content of micahth.diaryland.com changed greatly over the course of its existence and I cringe at some of the entries but others stand out as good pieces that I'm glad I wrote.

When I reread the first entry here, I’m struck by how this log has become something quite different than what I had first intended. And yet mth.blogspot.com, unlike micahth.diaryland.com, has at no point been anything that I didn’t want to be writing.

Blogs, I suppose, are a lot like life. They are what they have become. And they will become what they are turned into.

Thursday, September 12, 2002
Was the United States post September 11 just a Dress Rehearsal?

President Bush’s speech to the United Nations earlier today can be summed up as:

-The United States is rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). (“The United States pulled out of UNESCO in December 1984, complaining of wasteful bureaucracy and a Third World bias,” writes Irwin Arieff of Reuters.)

-Terrorists and states that aid them are dangerous.

-Iraq is dangerous although no evidence was given.

-Iraq has violated a lot of U.N. provisions in terms of the treatment of its own people and allowing the U.N. to monitor the country and determine whether or not is producing weapons of mass destruction.

-The U.N. should want to act. “The conduct of the Iraqi regime is a threat to the authority of the United Nations, and a threat to peace. Iraq has answered a decade of U.N. demands with a decade of defiance. All the world now faces a test, and the United Nations a difficult and defining moment,” Bush said. “Are Security Council resolutions to be honored and enforced, or cast aside without consequence? Will the United Nations serve the purpose of its founding, or will it be irrelevant?”

-Bush implied the U.S. would attack Iraq without U.N. backing if the U.N. did not give its support. “We will work with the U.N. Security Council for the necessary resolutions. But the purposes of the United States should not be doubted. The Security Council resolutions will be enforced -- the just demands of peace and security will be met -- or action will be unavoidable,” said Bush. "And a regime that has lost its legitimacy will also lose its power."

-Bush laid down a series of ultimatums to Iraq about ending and making amends for its misdeeds. They were all phrased as, “If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will…”

My take: It is a good thing that the U.S. is rejoining UNESCO but it remains to be seen how much difference the U.S. joining will make in the world.

As far as the comments relating to Iraq, there can be no doubt that Bush wants war as Iraq is almost certain to not meet the ultimatums given to it. And yet his case for war is very weak.

Hussein’s government no doubt violates the human rights of Iraqi citizens but a look through the library of Amnesty International will show that just about, if not literally, every government in the world has a history of committing human rights violations. Iraq’s record doesn’t appear so bad when compared to U.S. allies in the Middle East like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Bush didn’t talk about overthrowing the governments of those countries so human rights cannot be his actual concern. (And that isn't even to mention the U.S. record.)

Bush incredulously flattered the U.N. in this speech as if he has been a longtime supporter of international organizations and agreements. Anybody with a memory should see the insincerity in this but it is mistake to ignore that there is certain logic to what he is doing. Both proponents and opponents of the U.N., especially in the U.S., tend to overstate the degree of independence that the international body has from its host country. The U.N. has at no point in its 57 years ever directly given material opposition to the U.S. in matters of human rights and war and peace. The U.N., especially the General Assembly, does sometimes take stances that the U.S. doesn’t like but it doesn’t back those stances up with military force. There have been times, such as Chile in 1973 and East Timor in 1975, when the U.N., through its member states, could have protected human rights by going up against the military wishes of U.S. allies but it never has.

It is too simplistic to say that the U.N. is therefore a puppet of the U.S. Rather the correct analysis is that U.N. is not an organization that can effectively counter the most powerful nation in the world. Consequently in times when that nation, the U.S., decides to act, the greatest role the U.N. can have is as a cheerleader for the U.S. That isn’t a completely inconsequential role as it can give increased international legitimacy to U.S. projects –something that Bush and his advisors no doubt realize and why, if the U.N. gives approval this time, they will no doubt use this approach in the future- but this doesn’t make the U.N. a player with a leading role.

Maybe the greatest indicator of this is Bush's implication that the U.S. is willing to act without the U.N. to enforce U.N. resolutions. Bush doesn't care about an international body overseeing world affairs except to the extent that it furthers his interests. And when it doesn't further those interests, just like the presidents before him, Bush will walk away from the U.N. to get things done.

Most importantly, nowhere did Bush show that Iraq is a threat to the U.S. or any other country. Yes Iraq under Saddam Hussein has attacked Iran and Kuwait in the past but those instances are over a decade old. Yes Iraq may be developing weapons of mass destruction but that doesn’t make it any different than a whole of other countries and I explained on Tuesday why it is perfectly normal for Iraq to want nuclear weapons. Quite simply, there is no reason to think Iraq is a threat to anybody.

But Bush, if his word is to be trusted, wants to eliminate any chance that Iraq could ever be a threat. “The first time we may be completely certain he has a -- nuclear weapons is when, God forbids, he uses one,” the President said.

The logic here is laughable, especially coming from a leader of a country that has a fetish for calling itself free. Leaving aside the issue of what Bush’s deity does or does not want, the world is a dangerous place. There is always a chance that any person could kill another for some reason or no reason. And yet societies tend not to punish people because they could commit murder. Doing so would mean arresting everyone and then who would be protected? Who would be the guards? True, a few people could be arrested because of what they might do but there’s no justice in that. You wind up with something like the internment of people of Japanese descent during World War II, the detainment of Arab American men accused of overstaying their visas as happened last year after September 11 or the indefinite detainment of U.S. citizens accused of being terrorists.

Wait a second, maybe that’s exactly what Bush wants.

Some people in Chile remembered September 11.

As anybody reading this is probably well aware, President Bush has spoken to the United Nations about Iraq and here is the text of his prepared speech. I didn't see or listen to the speech and I won't be able to read for at least a little bit due to other commitments but I do hope to do so later today.

I take a certain degree of pride in seeing that the person who operates thespoonsexperience.com has written:
You might also find interesting the lame defense that [Scott] Ritter's getting from the appeasement left by heading over to Michah Holmquist's site. And don't forget to check out the comments there to see the left's willful blindness when confronted with direct evidence of Ritter's lies.
I don't feel the need to respond, however, as Spoons has yet to respond to this with anything but the above pejorative.

UPDATE: In light of this post from Spoons I have decided to remove a link from the above entry.

That said, the original link was neither an implied threat nor my posting of his personal information. Rather it was a link to the public availability of that information. In retrospect I shouldn't have linked to it since it had his personal information and for that I am vey sorry. (9/13/2002 8:53 a.m.)

Douglas Anders has some thoughts worth reading on a recent piece by Andrew Sullivan.

Lisa English thinks we can best honor those who died 366 days ago in the terrorist attack by calling "for the reinstatement of liberties that existed the day before."

Do read the entire post but keep in mind that civil liberties have long been in decline in this country and September 11 only accelerated this process.

On a more pessimistic note my guess is that we aren't going to see a groundswell of public opposition to the draconian aspects of the "war on terror" until their is widespread opposition the war's functions outside of the U.S. and/or law enforcement goes too far and starts hampering the freedom of lots of people who don't deviate from the cultural, political and religious norms of this country and who do not belong to a racial or ethnic group that is associated with terrorism.

Hopefully I'm wrong because I don't see either of those elements happening in the near future.

The “President's Remarks to the Nation” last night were better than I expected but still anything but good. Most of the speech consisted of warm fuzzies that are neither comforting to me nor something that can be disagreed with. A few of the “Remarks” do deserve attention, however:
We resolved a year ago to honor every last person lost. We owe them remembrance and we owe them more. We owe them, and their children, and our own, the most enduring monument we can build: a world of liberty and security made possible by the way America leads, and by the way Americans lead our lives.
I can understand how installing puppet governments can fit into this but is Bush really saying that he wants the “children” to inherit a country, and presumably a world, where many of the trappings of a police state are in place and the only debate is when authoritarian quality will turn to authoritarian quality, if it hasn’t already.

The attack on our nation was also attack on the ideals that make us a nation.
For just a minute could we act like people who understand causal links and recognize that what Osama bin Laden and company are most angry at the U.S. about is the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia. You don’t have to say that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were justified or even that this complaint has any merits. But we should be able to recognize that evidence points to this as being the main point of conflict.

Our deepest national conviction is that every life is precious, because every life is the gift of a Creator who intended us to live in liberty and equality. More than anything else, this separates us from the enemy we fight. We value every life; our enemies value none -- not even the innocent, not even their own. And we seek the freedom and opportunity that give meaning and value to life.
Unless of course you live in Afghanistan, Iraq or any other country the U.S. had decided in the past and/or will decide in the future to sanction and/or bomb the hell out of. Of if you are a Palestinian and die as a result of the Apache helicopters or other military equipment that Israel gets from the U.S. Or if you are deemed to be a terrorist or "against us." Or if you wind up on death row in the U.S. Or if you are a black man whose wallet doesn’t read, “this is not a gun.” Or if the U.S. comes up with some other exception.

But other than that he’s right.

There is a line in our time, and in every time, between those who believe all men are created equal, and those who believe that some men and women and children are expendable in the pursuit of power. There is a line in our time, and in every time, between the defenders of human liberty and those who seek to master the minds and souls of others. Our generation has now heard history's call, and we will answer it.
Who is in the side of “human liberty"? I seem to have missed sign up sheet for that team.
America has entered a great struggle that tests our strength, and even more our resolve. Our nation is patient and steadfast. We continue to pursue the terrorists in cities and camps and caves across the earth. We are joined by a great coalition of nations to rid the world of terror. And we will not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder.
Can somebody point me towards list of all who are classified as a “terrorist or tyrant” so I can check that against the list of countries that have weapons of mass destruction?

Stop Debating Iraq

It is easy to spend hours debating whether or not the United States should go to war with Iraq but doing so is not going to have much effect on what happens.

President George W. Bush and his advisors are determined to attack, invade and conquer Iraq. Already troops are already being positioned near the Iraqi border and the U.S. is conducting shooting practice with Iraqi targets. Bush has said that he will seek the approval of the U.S. Congress before going to war but nobody seriously believes that Congress will deny Bush that authority. The United Nations may or may not give approval but Bush will act as he wants anyway. Short of some surprising development(s) that forces the White House to rethink its plans, it is just a matter of time before war begins.

And if -or should I say when?- it does, Americans will rally behind the troops and public approval for both Bush and the war will skyrocket. Americans may or may not think that attacking Iraq is a good idea but very few will not want the U.S. to lose once war has commenced. If the war does go badly for Uncle Sam and American soldiers die in significant numbers, there will be criticism but it will be almost exclusively of the “we aren’t being hard enough on Iraq” variety. If things go smoothly, criticism will be generally considered too fringe to be worth acknowledging.

Critics of the war on terror are not helping matters by focusing on Iraq. Once the war begins the arguments about whether or not Iraq is a threat to the U.S. will be rendered irrelevant since countries at war are a threat to each other almost by definition and, at least as importantly, their will be no incentive for Saddam Hussein not to attack the U.S. or its allies. In light of all of this, I want to suggest that instead of focusing on Iraq, that opponents of the war on terror begin to focus on the larger goal of the war on terror.

In a June 1 speech before graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, Bush laid out a strategy of using military force to prevent countries or from becoming a threat to the U.S. “[T]he war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act,” Bush said.

This strategy can provide a convenient justification for going after countries, like Iraq, that at least have the potential to develop weapons of mass destruction and which are not friendly to the U.S. even when there is no evidence that these countries actually intend harm on the U.S. Iraq may be the first country to conquered in such a matter but it appears that the White House doesn’t plan on making it the last.

But nobody should mistake this for the actual foreign policy of the U.S. The world is an unpredictable place and just about any country could be an opponent of the U.S. at some point in time. Thus to actually confront threats before they emerge, the U.S. would have to prevent to countries like China, Great Britain, India and Russia, amongst others, from becoming a threat. That is a recipe for going to war with most of the world and say what you will about the Bush administration, they have to realize that this isn’t a workable way of interacting with the world.

The at least publicly unspoken assumption guiding Bush’s polices is that the White House is able discern between those countries that merely could pose a threat in the future and those that actually will. This will likely result in is what has already happened with regard to Iraq; the U.S. picks out a country, demonizes the country and uses its military to make an example of the country to the rest of the world.

Jonah Goldberg of the National Review recently wrote that about a decade ago he heard fellow National Review contributor Michael Ledeen say, "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business."

In this current war, “every ten years or so” is likely to become every year or so. The U.S. is going to have show its strength with at least yearly regularity in order to prevent countries from even becoming a threat. Iraq will not be an isolated incident. Bush’s gambit constitutes regular wars against countries where there is no evidence that they intend harm on the U.S. while leaving other countries that could do harm to U.S. alone. In other words, the U.S. military is going to beat up on certain countries to show it can, not to protect the U.S.

Opponents of U.S. military interventions should begin to point this out as opposed to arguing the specifics of Iraq. In doing so they will be working towards undermining in the public’s mind that taking over countries like Iraq is about protecting the U.S. And they will also be working to avoid a collapse in the movement and a need for intellectual renewal once war with Iraq begins. This war is going to be a long one. The anti-war movement should get ready for a long fight.