Friday, February 28, 2003

# Posted 4:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IF I WERE SADDAM: Which I am! Buwahaha! Anyway, reader FJ comments that
At the risk of sounding heartless, I believe that the greatest risk facing human shields after the shooting starts is being executed by Hussein's henchmen and dumped on a pile of bomb-strewn rubble for a propaganda photo-op.
At the risk of sounding even more heartless, I have to admit that if I were Saddam, that's what I'd do. Thus, if I were a human shield, I would spend my time in Tel Aviv nightclubs.
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# Posted 4:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BUREAUCRACY: Spent four and a half hours at the Home Office today waiting to get my student visa renewed. When I finally got to talk to a clerk, he told me that since I was more than three months overdue for a renewal, he couldn't process my application, so I should send it in by mail.

That sounded bad. After all, I had bothered to go to the Home Office in person because I want to travel in March, so I couldn't wait for a by-mail renewal. (Of course, I could've sent the application in three months ago, but whatever.)

Then, surprisingly enough, the clerk tells me I should go ahead and travel, but bring my renewal application with me and hand to the immigration officer when I return to London. It's that simple. Now, it would've been nice if there had been a notice on the Home Office immigration website explaining that late applications can be processed at the airport, but I figure I came out ahead compared to the people who left the Office after shouting matches with the clerks.

Thankfully, that's all in the past now. I'm now at an Easy Everything internet cafe, having just wolfed down some of the best pizza in England at a SoHo cafe. After this, we head out to party.
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# Posted 2:46 PM by Dan  

THE UNION COMES AROUND. They've come a long way since their 1933 decision to "in no circumstances fight for king and country." Our friend Jackie Newmeyer delivered a stirring presentation.

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Thursday, February 27, 2003

# Posted 10:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE ARAB BACKLASH: Martin Kimel has responded in detail to my thoughts on whether or not there will be an Arab backlash in the event of a US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. (I can't figure out where to find permalinks on Martin's page, so if you don't mind, just hit CTRL+F and search for OxBlog.)

Martin's first point is that the projected length of the US occupation will be at least two years, a fact which might reinforce impressions of imperialism. If the occupation of Iraq follows the German and Japanese precedents, however, there will be municipal and provincial elections after around a year of occupation. Thus Iraqis will have considerable control of their own lives even if a US general has the final say on issues of national importance. As such, Muslims in neighboring states will probably recognize that the occupation is not an imperialist venture.

Martin next raises the issue of whether Muslims will perceive the US as anti-Islamic if -- or perhaps because -- it has chosen to bring democracy to Iraq. To support that point, Martin refers to bin Laden's statement that the war on terror is an anti-Islamic crusade regardless of whether or not it topples dictators such as Saddam. My guess is that most Muslims don't really buy into that sort of underhanded logic. Even if Muslims have their doubts about democracy, I don't think there is any reason they should see it as fundamentally un-Islamic, provided their views on having a good time are less strict than those of the Taliban.

The most interesting point Martin makes is one about the psychology of perception. Whereas I figure that most Muslims are either somewhat open-minded about the US or fully convinced that it is an imperialist power, Martin suggests that any given individual may have a tipping point at which one more American insult send them over the edge.

While I have some background in political psychology, I don't think I can offer decisive statements about how the average human being thinks, let alone how Arabs and Muslims form their political perceptions. Even so, the tipping-point model seems somewhat improbable. It essentially posits that certain classes of events transform open-minded individuals into closed-minded ones.

Regardless of the fact that such a transformation doesn't really fit with what I know about the psychology of persuasion (let alone common sense), I'm enough of a novice at this to be less than sure about my position. Still, even if one grants that individuals may have tipping points, is the invasion of Iraq the sort of event that might send people over the edge?

I tend to doubt it. First of all, the impact of an invasion on non-Iraqis will be much less direct than it is on the people of Iraq. As such, it is hard to imagine that it would affect their psychology so dramatically. Second, another invasion of Iraq would not be all that different from the first one, even though Saddam had more directly provoked his neighbors in 1991.

To support the tipping point logic, Martin provided the example of Yusuf Qaradawi, a Muslim televangelist who has long supported suicide bombing, but then supported the US war in Afghanistan, while now denouncing the prospective invasion of Iraq. Leaving aside my previous argument that the US can work with men such as Qaradawi to reform Arab governments (an argument Martin strongly disagrees with), I'd have to say Qaradawi is not a likely to have a tipping point.

First of all, Qaradawi is an intellectual, and thus much less likely to have impulsive views about politics. If there is an uprising in response to the US invasion of Iraq, it will come from below, not above (although those above will take advantage of it). Moreover, the simple fact that Qaradawi could back an American war against an Islamic state suggests that he is far too open-minded to be thrown over the age by American aggression against a secular dictator like Saddam.

So those are my thoughts. As someone with only a primitive knowledge of Middle Eastern politics, I won't stand by them without reservations, especially when confronted with solid arguments like Martin's. But I think I've made a logical case and one that does pretty well on the facts. Let me know what you think.
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# Posted 9:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE ON HUMAN SHIELDS: Tommy Franks announced yesterday that he couldn't guarantee the safety of the human shields who have set up camp in Iraq. Which brings me to some interesting mail I got in response to my last post on the Iraqi shields.

Lawyer BVK writes that
In response to your (perhaps rhetorical) question re Human Rights Watch's statement on US culpability for killing human shields, they are in part right. Legal responsibility can lie on both sides of an action, even if one side initiates it. For example, when a criminal takes a hostage, the police cannot simply shoot through the hostage to kill the bad guy. Even though the criminal has initiated the situation by putting a hostage between him and the gun, the police officer has a responsibility to assess whether there is a means of apprehending/killing the criminal without endangering the life of the hostage. he end result might be shooting the hostage to get to the criminal, but absent a good justification (more lives would be in danger otherwise) that cop is going to jail.

Here, however, there are two key differences. First, these human shields are not hostages. That probably makes no difference under international humanitarian law (keeping in mind international law is not always well defined), because the crime is using civilians to shield military objectives or targets. Whether or not the shields voluntarily assumed that role doesn't matter, unless in doing so they could be said to have ceased being civilians and instead have become combatants. In the Iraqi case, that argument wouldn't fly. Whether or not the "coalition of the willing" attacks Iraq, he has committed a war crime by deploying civilians as human shields to impede military operations.

Second, international law does not impose the same constraints on combatants as domestic law does on police, although Human Rights Watch almost got the standard right. When faced with human shields, the rule the United States must follow is that "any loss of civilian life incidental to the attack on legitimate military targets must be reduced to what is absolutely necessary to accomplish the mission." Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions. Mission is defined broadly; you must look beyond the particular target of a bomb. In Iraq, it could be construed as broadly as something such as "take the city of Baghdad" or, more likely, a bit more narrowly like "take and secure high level military and government facilities and occupants."

Although again not entirely clear under international law (and as we see the number of war crimes trials increase, the law will develop), the other parties deployment of human shields is not an affirmative defense that gets you off the hook for a charge of targeting civilians. The United States and its allies will have to review its target list with the knowledge that certain targets are shielded by civilians and assess whether hitting those targets is absolutely necessary to accomplishing the mission. In the case of electrical plants, the answer may very well be yes. Cutting off the regime's power may be essential, especially in a night attack. I also have read that human shields might be deploying at water facilities. Although unlikely to have been on any target lists, I can't imagine the coalition forces could contend that hitting water plants knowing civilians were present was absolutely necessary to the mission. Of course, many civilians will die; some may be human shields. But with precision bombs and decent target selection, legitimate war crimes charges arising from killing human shields are not a high risk here.
Sounds good to me. Non-lawyer MJ adds that "There is a difference between an innocent civilian human shield in the form of an Iraqi held against his will and a volunteer who chooses to stand where bombs are likely to fall. I don't consider volunteers to protect targets to be civilians at all." I think I'm going to side with BVK on the legal merits and MJ on moral grounds. Regardless, the US should probably do its best to avoid hitting the shields f(if possible) for the practical reason that it will lead to another damaging public fight with assorted European governments. If only the shields were willing to deploy themselves in Israel instead, all this trouble could be avoided...
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# Posted 8:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY: KUWAIT. (For earlier posts in the Islam and Democracy series, click here.)

On the front page of today's WaPo there is a long article entitled "Democracy in Kuwait is Promise Unfulfilled". While this headline is 100% accurate, the article does not explain why it is that Kuwait is no closer to democratic rule than it was at the end of the Gulf War.

As the Post correctly reports, Kuwait is a "tightly controlled hereditary emirate" with an elected parliament. While the franchise is restricted to male citizens over the age of 21, elections are essentially fair. Reading the Post article, one has no idea what the significance of parliament is in this tightly controlled hereditary emirate.

Trying to figure out what was going on, I turned to an article by Georgia State Prof. Michael Herb in the Oct. 2002 issue of the Journal of Democracy. It turns out that the Emir's son, the Crown Prince, appoints the cabinet, which is responsible to the Emir and not to the parliament. The cabinet does not need a vote of confidence in parliament in order to take office, nor can it be removed by a vote of no confidence.

The ministries of defense, interior and foreign affairs (known collectively as the ministries of sovereignty) are reserved for members of the royal family, while the rest of the cabinet posts are distributed in a manner reflecting the balance of power in parliament.

The one prerogrative the parliament itself has is to vote no confidence in individual ministers, a prerogative it took advantage of in July 2002. Ironically, the vote reflected an effort by conservative Islamist, Shi'ite and tribal deputies to oust a liberal finance minister. Their effort failed, but narrowly.

Neither the WaPo article nor its JoD counterpart gives much sense of how much control the parliament has over the government, although the latter observes that "the government does sometimes lose important votes, as was the case with parliament's refusal to give women the vote." In a bit of bad reporting, the Post implies that the defeat of women's suffrage was an unmitigated defeat for democracy, rather than exploring the possibility that the conservative opposition's successful resistance to a government sponsored initiative indicates that the royal family does not wield, as the Post would have it, "unquestioned power."

A second critical oversight in both articles is their failure to examine what it is that Kuwait's Islamist opposition wants. Both simply refer to the Islamists as fundamentalist, with the Post mentioning their unsurprising habit of saying nice things about Palestinian martyrs and Osama bin Laden. But are the Islamists interested in taking control of the state? Do they acknowledge the legitimacy of the royal family? Would universal suffrage increase their influence or reduce it? Would an Islamist majority in parliament use it influence to open up the government or just demand special privileges for fundamentalists?

Herb writes that
"fears that an Islamist takeover will result from a partial transition [to democracy] are exaggerated. As much as the sad expereince of Algeria shows the very real dangers of ill-considered attempts at democratization, it is unlikley in the extreme that an Algerian scenario will play out in the Gulf: The ruling families there are too deply ensconced to be ousted by Islamists."

Thus, in Kuwait, the future of democracy depends on the willingness of the Emir and his family to grant their subjects both civil rights and a greater voice in government. In the absence of strong pressure from Washington, however, there is every reason to believe that they won't.

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# Posted 8:24 PM by Dan  

TAKE THAT, PROTESTERS. Max Boot on the negative effects of peace marches. He's on shaky ground when discussing Vietnam, but elsewhere his argument is sound.

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# Posted 7:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

AFGHAN FUNDAMENTALISM is alive and well.
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# Posted 7:48 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WaPo JINGOISM: In an extraordinary editorial, the editors of the Washington Post defend themselves from charges of "jingoism" and "drumbeating for war", charges levelled in countless letters to the editor. (Seems NYT subscribers read the Post as well...)

But more than a response to critics, the editorial is a sober and well-reasoned case for fighting Saddam Hussein should he refuse to disarm. If you know someone who isn't sure that the United States is on the right path -- and still open to the argument that it might be -- let them know what the WaPo has to say.
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# Posted 4:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

STEALING GORE'S PLAYBOOK: Yes, the President has committed the US to nation-building in Iraq. But now it's called reconstruction.
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# Posted 3:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IN MEMORIAM: Mr. Rogers.
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# Posted 3:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

SUPREME IRONY: Reader JS writes in with a very clever way of preventing Iraq from launching Scud attacks on Tel Aviv: Send in the human shields! Surely the anti-war movement can come up with a few volunteers for this mission...

Thanks to JS, I also thought of the following: Why not stop Palestinian suicide bombings by having human shields on every public bus and in every nightclub in Israel? After all, clubbing is almost as much fun as going to protest marches!
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# Posted 3:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT BIAS? As Josh reported earlier, the good news is that the President's speech on promoting democracy in the Middle East sound like his speechwriters have spending their free time over at the OxDem website.

And yet somehow, the NYT managed to report that Bush's speech was about "stability" in the Middle East and the importance of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. You have to get around half way through the article before you get to any mention of Bush's vision for a democratic Middle East. While it's one thing to be skeptical about the President's commitment to promoting democracy abroad, pretending that he hasn't addressed the issue is just absurd.

On an even more bizarre note, a NYT masthead editorial criticizes Bush for focusing his speech on democracy in Iraq when what he really should have been talking about is the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. People! Make up your mind!

Unsurprisingly, the WaPo seemed to have no problem figuring out the point of Bush's speech. As the second sentence of its report reads,
Looking beyond hostilities to topple Saddam Hussein -- an outcome administration officials have increasingly portrayed as inevitable -- Bush also sought to assure doubters across the globe that the ultimate U.S. goals in the region are not imperialist but democratic.
Sort of makes you wonder why the cover price of the NYT is so much higher than that of the Post. Maybe it's the cost of remedial journalism classes for all of its correspondents.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2003

# Posted 11:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

PROOF I AM A CENTRIST: I took the "How evil are you?" quiz and discovered that I am neither good nor evil, just neutral. According to the quiz's creators this means
Moderation toward all things! Although you do have inner demons, you can more than control them, and often find yourself in the position of peacemaker, balancing things out.
I also took the liberty of filling in the answers I think Josh might give, and it turns out that he is "Good". Go figure.
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# Posted 11:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER JAPAN? Josh Marshall ruminates about the tremendous difficulty of transforming Iraq and concludes that the only right thing to do is go all out to promote democracy. But he warns that anything less than wholehearted commitment will result in both failure and a backlash throughout the Arab world.

One point is take issue with is Marshall's argument that those who compare Iraq to Germany and Japan
miss an important part of why Germany and Japan worked. It's called World War II. One of the reasons the Germans and the Japanese stood still for what we accomplished in their countries is that we had just spent a couple years thoroughly bludgeoning their countries. Day and night bombing against major population centers, the disruption of the economies, the very real threat that if it wasn't us it'd be the Russians taking over, etc.

By 1945, we had pretty much destroyed the Germans' and Japanese' will to fight. And they were pleasantly surprised when they discovered how relatively benign our rule was. The same set of circumstances won't apply to Iraq. And that should be a cause of real concern.

I'm surprised Marshall thinks the "same set of circumstances won't apply to Iraq." But everyone there has suffered for years because of Saddam's corruption and brutality. While some Iraqis might blame the West for sanctions, the Japanese and Germans would have been able to make an even stronger case for blaming the Allies for their carpet bombing.

Moreover, I think there is every reason to believe that Iraqis will be "pleasantly surprised when they discover how relatively benign our rule" is.

Speaking as a historian, I think that what Marshall really misses is the way in which the Allied victory in World War II utterly discredited the vicious ideologies that taken root in both Germany and Japan before and during the war. The shock of defeat was in part a product of the utopian visions that Hitler and the Japanese imperialists forced on their erstwhile subjects.

I'd imagine that Iraq's Ba'athist ideology is already too discredited to be hurt by another Iraqi defeat. But more importantly, the ideology of democracy has already spread to both the millions of Iraqis living in exile as well as the Kurds of the North. While I have no illusions about the democratization of Iraq being easy, it is important not to give in to unfounded pessimism.

On that point, I agree with Marshall, who concludes that "Believe it or not, this [post] isn't meant to say we shouldn't try to accomplish this [objective]. Once the decision for war is made it is really the only policy we can pursue. But the scope of enterprise is awe-inspiring."

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# Posted 10:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

VACLAV HAVEL "MORALLY REPUGNANT"? Boy will Josh be pissed off when he reads this. Warning: those allergic to Noam Chomsky should not follow the previous link.
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# Posted 10:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WHAT IRAQIS? The National Review reports on the British anti-war movment's efforts to stop Iraqi dissidents from expressing their views.
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# Posted 10:39 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RWANDAN GENOCIDE, PART II: As described below, I am in the midst of trying to figure out what sort of moral responsibility the United States bears for its failure to stop the Rwandan genocide. The question I want to answer in this post is "What did the United States government know about the genocide and when did it know it?"

According to historian and activist Alison Des Forges, the US knew what was happening as soon as the massacres began on April 6, 1994. According to political scientist Alan Kuperman, neither the US, the UN, nor Des Forges herself understood the dimensions of the violence until April 20, at which point it would not have been possible to save more than a fifth of the eventual victims.

While I thought Kuperman made a much stronger case, the issue itself is significant enough to merit a third opinion. So I turned to the work of Samantha Power, former executive director of Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights and author of "A Problem From Hell": America and the Age of Genocide (For a summary of her views from the Atlantic Monthly, click here.)

(NB: While aware of all the praise and awards that Power's book has won, I also chose to consult it because Samantha graduated from Yale a few years before I did and held the same Junior Fellowship at the Carnegie Endowment after graduating. When I was considering whether or not to accept the Fellowship, Yale referred me to Samantha, who recommended it enthusiastically. Not that I would've turned it down anyway, but she did help persuade me.)

Power's condemnation of the US is unequivocal. As she writes,
The Rwandan genocide would prove to be the fastest, most efficient killing spree of the twentieth century. In 100 days, some 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu were murdered. The United States did almost nothing to try to stop it. Ahead of the April 6 plane crash, the United States ignored extensive early warnings about imminent mass violence. It denied Belgian requests to reinforce the peacekeeping mission. When the massacres started, not only did the Clinton administration not send troops to Rwanda to contest the slaughter, but it refused countless other options...Remembering Somalia and hearing no American demands for intervention, President Clinton and his advisers knew that the military and political risks of involving the United States in a bloody conflict in central Africa were great, yet there were no costs of avoiding Rwanda altogether.
While I haven't made it through all of Carr's chapter on Rwanda yet, the evidence so far seems to support Kuperman's account more than it does Des Forges' or her own..

While Carr documents the elaborate Hutu preparations for the genocide, there is insufficient evidence that either US or UN officials knew what might happen. In April 1993, one UN rapporteur explicity warned of a possible genocide in Rwanda, pointing to 2,000 political murders that had taken place since 1990. Yet as Carr notes elsewhere, Hutu violence claimed the lives of 50,000 victims in neighboring Burundi in October 1993.

Was this an indication that such violence might spread to Rwanda? Or that warnings of violence in Rwanda were exaggerated when compared to the situation elsewhere? According to Carr's interviews with US diplomats stationed in Rwanda in April 1994, they were fully committed to the UN brokered peace process and expected no major violence. Wrong (and/or self-serving) as such perceptions might, they don't provide much traction for the view that Washington should have known better.

On January 11, 1994, UN peacekeeping commander Gen. Romeo Dallaire cabled New York to let the UN know that a Rwandan informant had warned of an impending genocide. According to Carr, Dallaire assessed the informant's report as "reliable." According to Kuperman, Dallaire
raised doubts about the informant's credibility in this cable, stating that he had "certain reservations on the suddenness of the change of heart of the informant. . . . Possibility of a trap not fully excluded, as this may be a set-up." Raising further doubt, the cable was the first and last from Dallaire containing such accusations, according to U.N. officials. Erroneous warnings of coups and assassinations are not uncommon during civil wars. U.N. officials were prudent to direct Dallaire to confirm the allegations with Habyarimana himself, based on the informant's belief that "the president does not have full control over all elements of his old party/faction." Dallaire never reported any confirmation of the plot.
Unfortunately, neither Carr nor Kuperman indicates where one can find the original text of the memo. Even so, Kuperman seems to be on firmer ground here.

The next point of conflict between the Kuperman and Carr accounts concerns Gen. Dallaire's state of mind in April 1994. According to Carr,
Dallaire and other foreign observers passed through two phases of recognition. The first involved coming to grips with the occurrence not only of a conventional war but of massive crimes against humanity. The second involved understanding that what was taking place was genocide.
Carr's interviews with Dallaire suggest that he reached the first stage of recognition on April 9 and the second stage on April 10, at which point he requested 5,000 reinforcements.

In light of the fact that Dallaire had the benefit of hindsight while being interviewed, it is worth wondering whether he exaggerated his own awareness of the genocide and commitment to stopping it. If Dallaire's statements to the British press in April 1994 are any indication, what he told Carr was just about an outright lie.

In Foreign Affairs, Kuperman writes that Dallaire
identified the problem as mutual violence, stating on April 15 that "if we see another three weeks of being cooped up and seeing them [the Hutu and Tutsi forces] pound each other" (The Guardian), the U.N. presence would be reassessed...

On April 11, The New York Times reported that fighting had "diminished in intensity" and Le Monde wrote three days later that "a strange calm reigns in downtown" Kigali. The commander of Belgian peacekeepers stated that "the fighting has died down somewhat, one could say that it has all but stopped" (Paris Radio France International). On April 17, Dallaire told the BBC that except for an isolated pocket in the north, "the rest of the line is essentially quite quiet." Only on April 18 did a Belgian radio station question this consensus, explaining that the decline in reports of violence was because "most foreigners have left, including journalists."

In light of Dallaire's failure to understand what was going on around him, one has to wonder what decision makers in Washington understood -- especially since the American diplomatic corps had left Rwanda shortly after the outbreak of violence.

Quoted in an interveiw with Carr, the second-ranking US diplomat in Rwanda claims, after returning to Washington, to have told State Department colleagues that the violence in progress was nothing less than "genocide" in progress. In the absence of documents to corroborate this claim, however, one has to suspect that it is no more accurate than Dallaire's.

On April 11, a talking points memo informed Frank Wisner, the undersecretary of defense for policy, that "unless both sides can be convinced to return to the peace process, a massive (hundreds of thousands of deaths) bloodbath will ensue." This memo is the closest one comes to hard evidence that the American government knew what was happening. Yet its reference to the peace process suggests that Washington had completely failed to recognized that Hutu extremists had already begun their genocide and that no diplomatic options were left.

The first mention of genocide in an American document seems to be in a May 9 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency. By that time, however, the dimensions of the killing in Rwanda were well known to the public. All in all, there just doesn't seem to be evidnece that the US understood just how serious the Rwandan massacres were.

Should the US have responded with force even if the massacres taking place did not amount to genocide? From a moral perspective, the obvious answer is 'yes'. But after the humilitation of Somalia and the lackluster response to the ongoing genocide in Bosnia, there is little reason to believe that the US or any other country would have done something in the event of violence that wasn't severe enough to warrant the term genocide.


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# Posted 9:38 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

WE ARE EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES: For the moment, Oxford has been electronically severed from the outside world. Thanks to my private cable modem connection, I can still post. However, I cannot check my e-mail, so don't expect responses to anything you've written me lately.

In contrast, Josh can check his e-mail, but can't access any sites outside of Oxford, so he can't post on OxBlog. Now you might ask, how could I know all this if Josh and I live on opposite sides of the electronic divide?

Well, I'm not proud to admit it, but I actually called Josh on the phone. It made me feel so...so...primitive.
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# Posted 9:33 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RWANDA: THE PREVENTABLE GENOCIDE? In the Wall Street Journal, Josh and I wrote that
In light of the strength that dissidents from Prague to Belgrade to Baghdad have found in America's founding principles, we disagree with those who believe that America lacks the moral integrity necessary to bring democracy to Iraq.
If one wants to defend such claims of moral integrity, however, one has to account for the American failure to respond to the Rwandan genocide of April 1994. While this failure might not invalidate American aspirations to liberate Iraq, it nonetheless constitutes a significant challenge to America's perception of itself as defender of the downtrodden.

Turning first to Foreign Affairs, I ran across a long critique of the conventional wisdom that the timely dispatch of 5,000 troops to Rwanda could have prevented the genocide. (My apologies for linking to FA summaries rather than the full text, which I only have access to thanks to subscription database.)

The crux of Kuperman's argument is simple: Rwanda's Hutu genocidaires murdered half of their victims between April 6 and April 21, 1994, with two-thirds of the murders accomplished by the end of April. The United States and the UN Security Council were not aware of the fact that a genocide was in progress until April 20. Thus, even the most rapid possible deployment of US and/or UN forces could not have stopped the killing before mid- to late May, at which point more than four-fifths of the 500,000-600,000 victims of would have already been dead.

In a response to Kuperman, Alison Des Forges -- a Yale-educated historian, Human Rights Watch consultant and author of the definitive account of the Rwandan genocide -- asserts that
Two days, not two weeks, after the slaughter began on April 6, U.S. officials knew that extremists with an avowedly genocidal agenda had murdered legitimate Rwandan authorities and were claiming control of the government...As an April 8 State Department briefing made clear, U.S. officials also knew that Hutu soldiers had been killing Tutsi for two days and that the violence was not limited to the capital."
Kuperman responds to Des Forges by reminding of her own words, published in the Washington Post on April 17, 1994. In a column there, she failed to even raise the prospect of "genocide".

Unwilling to trust Kuperman on this point, I pulled up Des Forges column on Nexis-Lexis. It turns out that Kuperman was understating his case. According to Des Forges,
Whatever the circumstances of the crash [that killed Pres. Habyarimana], it provided extremists within the ruling group with the long-sought pretext for wiping out their opponents. Within an hour of the announcement of Habyarimana's death, the elite presidential guard launched a search-and-destroy mission...

If the world really cares what happens in Rwanda -- beyond the gaping at photos of unspeakable horrors -- it will bring all pressure to bear on the RPF and what remains of the Rwandan army general staff to effect a ceasefire.
In short, the fiercest critic of US inaction in the face of genocide could not bring herself to recommend armed intervention by the US or the UN at the height of the killing.

To be continued...
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# Posted 5:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

(KA)BULL MARKET: The WaPo has a nice article on entrepreneurs in Karzai's Afghanistan. Businesses of all sorts seem to be thriving, from hamburger joints to internet cafes.

What's missing in the article is any sense of whether this trend reflects more than the usual boomlet that follows the infusion of international aid (and American military spending). From Phnom Penh to Sarajevo, international aid has produced bubble economies that pop once the aid stops flowing.

The article also fails to give the reader any sense of whether Kabul's growth is reaching the countryside. In light of the fact that Kabul is the only town guarded by Western forces, I wouldn't be surprised if it also the only town with successful entrepreneurs. In some respects, the success of the economy may be the best indicators of whether Hamid Karzai remains the mayor of Kabul or becomes the president of a united, democratic Afghanistan.
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# Posted 3:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IMMUTABLE LAWS AMENDED: Law Five states that "Europeans are always right." As today's MoDo column demonstrates, Law Five ought to now read as follows: "Old Europe is always right. New Europe is always wrong."

Take this bit of wisdom for example: "As one Soviet expert put it, 'Bulgaria used to be Russia's lapdog. Now it's America's lapdog.'" Huh? Did I miss the American tanks rolling into Budapest, Prague and Warsaw? Actually, there may well be American tanks stationed in Budapest, Prague and Warsaw over the next few months, if Donald Rumsfeld has his way. By invitation, of course, but you can't expect MoDo to worry about small details like that.
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# Posted 3:07 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER NERVOUS LIBERAL HAWK? I'm willing to count Tom Friedman in on this one. He has been more consistent than any other first-tier columnist in focusing on Middle Eastern democracy. As he puts it,
When it comes to building democracy in Iraq, the Europeans are uninterested, the Americans are hypocritical and the Arabs are ambivalent. Therefore, undertaking a successful democratization project there, in a way that will stimulate positive reform throughout the region, will require a real revolution in thinking all around — among Americans, Arabs and Europeans. If done right, the Middle East will never be the same. If done wrong, the world will never be the same.
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# Posted 3:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

UNBRIDLED ELITISM: A NYT masthead remarks that
The nation may be cruising toward one of those moments of cultural humiliation when the world compares the number of people who watch the Hussein interview with the 40 million who last week watched Joe Millionaire pick wholesome Zora over Sarah, the presumed gold-digger.
While I don't want to go on the record endorsing Joe Millionaire (since I haven't watched it), I get the sense that watching JM involved actual suspense, whereas we know that Saddam Hussein will just tell the same old lies. American people - 1, NYT - 0.

UPDATE: After Dan Rather finished interviewing Saddam, the dictator turned the tables on Rather and began to interview him, albeit off camera. Now if CBS broadcast that, it might get more than 40 million views.
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# Posted 2:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LOWER MANHATTAN HORSE RACE: The Think team has edged out Daneil Libeskind in the latest stage of the competition to redesign the World Trade Center.

While the politics of it all aren't that interesting, make sure to click on the box to the right of the article, labeled "Envisioning Downtown: New Plans for Ground Zero". It has very impressive virtual reality videos of each of the seven designs under consideration, thus offering a fuller perspective than the slide shows on the LMDC website.

Of course, OxBlog's still supports the design of dark horse architect Robert Thompson, who deserves your attention even if he's a long shot for the contract.
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# Posted 2:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LESSONS OF KOSOVO: Paul Wolfowitz seems to agree with OxBlog that ethnic violence will not present a serious threat to postwar Iraq, despite its devastating effects in Kosovo.

As Wolfowitz told the NYT, Iraq's "ethnic groups have not had decades of slaughtering one another as happened in the Balkans. The problem in Iraq is a regime that slaughters everybody, it's equal opportunity repression,' he said." Sounds sorta like an evil version of the 14th amendment...
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Tuesday, February 25, 2003

# Posted 10:55 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NATION BUILDING AND ETHNIC VIOLENCE: Will postwar Iraq descend into a maelstrom of ethnic, communal religious violence? Looking for answers, I came across this article by Ted Gurr, a professor at the University of Maryland.

According to Gurr, ethnic warfare across the globe was a rising trend in the last decades of the Cold War. While the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia both saw multiple ethnic conflicts break out in the last years of their existence, even more ethnic conflicts emerged in southern hemisphere nations unaffected by the Eastern European revolution.

While these outbreaks of violence led numerous pundits to declare that ethnic warfare would be the dominant security issue in the post-Cold War era, the fact is that old conflicts are settling down while fewer new ones are emerging. One trend that bodes well for postwar Iraq is that "The new democracies of Europe, Asia, and Latin America were especially likely to protect and promote minority rights."

If you think about it, that conclusion seems almost self-evident. The ethnic conflicts in Kosovo, Sudan and East Timor were responses to the brutal repression ordered by authoritarian governments. The Chechen conflicts fits into this framework as well, since Russia's democratic facade did not influence its behavior toward the Caucasus.

Well, that's the good news for today. Don't expect much more.

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# Posted 8:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NATION BUILDING: In the next couple of weeks, OxDem will host a panel discussion about war and democracy in the Middle East. Although charmed by our professors' valiant efforts to cure insomnia, we decided this ought to be a panel made up entirely of students. As such, both Josh and myself will be participating.

In order to put our best foot forward, we thought it might be a good idea to do some research in advance. One of the questions I'm interested in whether or not the UN/NATO nation building efforts in Bosnia and Kosovo have been successful, as well as what lessons they might hold for the occupation of Iraq.

If you happen to know much about this topic, it would be great to hear your thoughts. If not, then keep reading and finding what my first forays into the literature have turned up:

Writing in Foreign Affairs, David Rohde, a correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, observes that Kosovo
"remains widely corrupt, lawless, intolerant of both ethnic and political minorities, and a source of instability. The mission in Kosovo is proving even more daunting than the one in nearby Bosnia."
What Rohde recommends to fix the situation is
a firm [NATO/UN] commitment to a politically aggressive, properly funded, long-term mission that uses the rule of law and economic reform to affect the lives, livelihoods, safety, and, to the extent possible, views of average Albanians and Serbs. Changing the destructive aspects of ordinary people's attitudes is both the most pivotal and the most daunting task the NATO and U.N. missions face in Kosovo.
According to Rohde, one of the most dangerous legacies of Milosevic's wars is the memory of atrocities committed by rival ethnic groups. In light of the strong collectivist ethic that animates both the Albanian and Serb communities in Kosovo, both sides tend to believe that entire communities, rather than individuals, should be held responsible for atrocities.

Compared to casualty figures in Bosnia, however, the figures for Kosovo are relatively low. Estimates place the number of murdered Albanians at 7,000, with 1,000 Serbs killed as a result of revenge attacks during the NATO occuaption.

Alongside ethnic violence, crime threatens the nation building process as well. According to Rohde,
The desire for order among Albanians is growing. But donor nations have so far provided only half of a requested 4,700-member U.N. police force. And with a critical shortage of international prosecutors and judges, there is no effective court or prison system in Kosovo. According to frustrated NATO officials, suspects arrested for crimes, including the murder of Serbs, have been released after a night or less in jail. The cycle of impunity continues.
In the absence of sufficient funding, however, the prospect for improvement are not great. Thus, Rohde recommends
Last, and most important[ly], all NATO countries -- particularly in Europe -- must follow up their military effort with far larger economic commitments. As of mid-March, the U.N. mission had received only $190 million of the $415 million it requires. It has nearly run out of money twice.
So I guess the first lesson of Kosovo is obvious: Don't expect results if you don't commit resources.

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# Posted 8:01 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

THE VISSER VIEW ON 2004: Retired blogger Michiel Visser writes in to remind us that there is one Democratic contender with a credible record on national security: Bob Graham. You can read about that record here in the Miami Herald.

What makes Graham an especially interesting candidate is that he is not just from Florida, but that he has won five consecutive statewide races there (2 for governor, 3 for the Senate). As Michiel points out, had Gore taken Clinton's advice and chosen Graham instead of Lieberman, a Democrat would almost definitely be occupying the White House right now. Will Graham become the dark horse winner of the Democratic primaries? (Drum roll, please...) Maybe!
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# Posted 2:56 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DUMP MUSHARRAF: Following the OxBlog line, the WaPo says the US better tell Pakistani Pres. Pervez Musharraf that if he doesn't stop supporting Al Qaeda and undermining Afghan sovereignty, he will become an American target in the war on terror.
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# Posted 2:47 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

ANOTHER NERVOUS LIBERAL HAWK: Mike McFaul is one of the few scholars, liberal or otherwise, to have made a compelling case on both moral and pragmatic grounds for establishing democracy promotion as the foundation of US foreign policy.

Perhaps unsurprisinlgy, McFaul shares the concerns of so many liberal hawks that the Bush administration is not truly committed to promoting democracy either in the Middle East or elsewhere.

While the election day costs of backpeddaling on democracy promotion are probably not all that high, if the President is serious about presiding over the liberation of the Middle East he will need hawks -- both liberal and conservative -- to make his vision a reality.
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# Posted 2:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HUH? The WaPo reports that
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, has condemned both sides for their stance toward the shields. "If Iraq uses people as human shields, that is a war crime," said Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director. "But Secretary Rumsfeld only told half the story. . . . If the United States attacks targets that are shielded by civilians without demonstrating an overwhelming military necessity to do so, that would be a war crime too."
While, on ethical grounds, I believe that the US should not attack sites "protected" by human shields unless absolutely necessary, I don't understand how doing so could be a crime. If deploying human shields is a crime, then doesn't the government responsible for their deployment bear all legal (if not moral) responsibility for the shields' welfare? Perhaps some of you lawyers out there can help me out on this one.
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Monday, February 24, 2003

# Posted 8:58 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BETRAYAL OF THE LIBERAL HAWKS: Peter Beinart's editorial in the current edition of the The New Republic speaks for all of us who believe that the United States' moral integrity and moral authority in the years to come will rest not on whether the Security Council supports a US-led invasion of Iraq, but on whether the United States commits itself fully to the building of a democratic Iraq.

Even though a democratic Iraq is still nothing more than a vision at the moment, commentators across the center swath of the blogosphere have already begun to demostrate a serious concern for its welfare. On the center left, Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias have begun to ponder their separation from the main stream of anti-war sentiment.

While both Kevin and Matt have mixed feelings about their support for invading Iraq, both recognize that they are willing to stand out from the crowd because of the hope that overthrowing Saddam Hussein will mark the beginning of a march toward freedom in the Middle East. At the same, they have little hope that the Bush Administration will rise far enough above partisan politics to commit to lasting change in Iraq.

Without expressing the same reservations about hewing toward the center, Josh Marshall has begun to subtly suggest that the President's half-hearted commitment to Afghanistan is an indication of what is in store for postwar Iraq. Unsurprisingly, he is no more optimistic on this count than Beinart.

On the right of center, Andrew Sullivan has declared that
the administration needs to be put on notice by its supporters as well as its opponents. Many of us signed onto this war not merely to protect the West from terrorists with weapons of mass destruction, but as an attempt to grasp the nettle of Arab autocracy. If we make no effort to foster democratic institutions, the rule of law and representative government in Iraq, then we will lose the peace as surely as we will have won the Iraq war. And losing that peace means losing the wider war on terror as well.
Without presuming to speak for my eloquent colleague, I think that Josh shares Andrew's lack of confidence in the administration. In our recent column in the WSJ Opinion Journal, Josh and I wrote that
We are deeply troubled by last week's news that the Bush Administration failed to request any money for reconstruction in Afghanistan in the 2003 budget, and we applaud Congress for stepping in to add the funds. If the administration ever turns away from postwar Iraq in a similar manner, OxDem will be there to remind it that its job has only just begun. Until the people of Iraq share the freedom that Americans cannot live without, America's mission must go on.
As it turns out, the BBC report that provoked our concern about the non-funding of Aghanistan may not be correct. But what is more important perhaps is that Josh and I immediately seized on the BBC's account as a credible indication of the President's lack of commitment.

For months now, we have been waiting for the administration's firm but vague rhetoric to become the foundation for concrete indications that there is a commitment to democratic reform. Just yesterday, Paul Wolfowitz "vowed that the administration would never back a 'junior Saddam Hussein.'"

But how much influence does Paul Wolfowitz have? According to Beinart,
The unhappy truth is that, if the Bush administration wins the war but betrays the peace, the political consequences for the president will be small. Once the fighting is over, the American press will turn its attention elsewhere, just as it has in post-Taliban Afghanistan. But the consequences for hawkish liberalism will be great. Having been played for fools, most liberal hawks will retreat to a deep skepticism of American power...[but] Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney won't lose sleep if Chevron and Crown Prince Abdullah run things in post-Saddam Baghdad rather than Kanan Makiya. Paul Wolfowitz will either shut up or resign.
I think that Peter is right about the costs being relatively low provided that criticism of the administration comes only from the left.

As the downfall of Trent Lott demonstrated, the most effective criticism comes from within. Thus, the first indication of the political costs of abandoning Iraq will be whether the Weekly Standard and National Review are willing to put the administration on notice, as Andrew advises. On this count, there is some hope. Both publications, especially the Standard, have demonstrated that their commitment to conservative principles is greater than their concern with the public standing of Republican politicians.

While criticism from the right may count for the most, bipartisan support for such persepctives will matter as well. To that end, Josh and I have founded OxDem. After all, a commitment to rebuilding Iraq rests not on conservative principles, but American ones. If the American public can be roused enough to prioritize Iraq after the war, there is no question what sort of postwar Iraq they will demand.

While I cannot make a compelling case for why the administration should actively commit itself to reconstruction on the grounds of self-interest alone, I will say that the faith of my generation in American power as a the bearer of American ideals is something the President ought to consider. As Beinart observes,
The '90s created a historic opening in the liberal psyche. And the Bush administration has exploited it. Its suggestion that war might not only free the people of Iraq but also set off a democratic chain reaction throughout the Middle East is tailor-made to appeal to liberals newly hopeful about American power. The national security argument for this war may be based on pessimism about the inevitable spread of weapons of mass destruction, but the political argument is based on post-1989 optimism about America's ability to bring liberal government to every corner of the globe.
That opening can be undone if the war on terror does not bring a better life to the people of the Middle East.
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# Posted 7:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

JACKSON DIEHL. As always, a must read.
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# Posted 7:36 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NAPOLEON COMPLEX: What makes Robert Kagan stand out from other commentators on the right is that he never lets trite jargon get in the way of serious political analysis.

Rather than ranting about the Axis of Weasels or 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys', Kagan's column on France in today's WaPo recognizes that clashing ideas and ideologies are what drive the current conflict between France and the United States.

According to Kagan,
"Americans make a serious mistake if they believe France is simply engaged in petty churlishness. Chirac and de Villepin believe they, and ultimately they alone, are defending the European vision of world order."
Thus, the challenge facing the United States is not shame France into compliance with its reasonable demands vis-a-vis Iraq, but to demonstrate that it has a more compelling vision of order and justice.
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Sunday, February 23, 2003

# Posted 3:51 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BLOGCEST: While I'm not sure about the ethical implications of plugging Josh's work, I'm going to do it anyway. His column over at TechCentralStation is great, and you should read it if you haven't already.
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# Posted 3:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FUZZY MATH: The Cardinal Collective reports on the SF Chronicle's efforts to figure out just how many people marched in last weekend's protests.

With the help of aerial photos, the anti-war Chronicle has estimated that there were only 65,000 marchers, not 200,000 as both the police and the march's organizers claimed. Score one for impartial reporting!

PS On the politics and history of crowd-counting, see this article by Noam Scheiber.
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# Posted 2:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CLEAN AND GREEN: These days, it's hard for environmental and development issues to get much attention in the mainstream media. But our Oxford colleague Matt Prescott is running a blog that covers these issues in depth and with considerable sophistication.

A good post to start with is Matt's report on an informal meeting at the Oxford Union with Jim Wolfensohn, President of the World Bank. Keep up the good work, MP!
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# Posted 2:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

"IF I WERE PRESIDENT..." is the title of a series of essays on foreign policy by the top four Democratic contenders for the 2004 nomination. (I am much obliged to Greg, of the very worthy Greg's Opinion, for bringing the essays to my attention.)

The most important thing to note is that only one of the four -- John Edwards -- spoke of promoting democracy in the Middle East as a critical objective in the war on terror. Good for him.

In general, the essays reflected that bland sort of campaign trail rhetoric that one might have expected. All of the four criticize the administration for its handling of North Korea and/or Homeland Security without giving any reason to think that they could've handled the issues better.

There was also a lot of vague talk about cooperating more with allies and avoiding international isolation. And, of course, no mentions of the 19 European nations who declared their support for America's firm stand against Iraq.

All in all, there isn't much reason to think the Dems will overcome their image as the weaker party when it comes to national security. I wish it weren't so. Only serious debate between two credible parties can ensure an optimal US foreign policy. Besides, credible Democratic contenders might hire a certain OxBlogger to be one of their campaign's foreign policy consultants...

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# Posted 1:46 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FITTING IN: It seems that one of our American predecessors at Oxford tried considerably harder to fit in (politically speaking), than Josh and myself. He now regrets trying.
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# Posted 12:00 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KAGAN VS. AYERS: In a post on Robert Kagan's recent interview with the NYT Magazine, I professed ignorance as to whether the NYTM always was so harsh on its subjects or just the conservatives.

Thanks to reader MG, you can now compare the Kagan interview with one of ex-Weatherman Bill Ayers. While the interview wasn't harsh, it wasn't soft either. More importantly, you don't need to ask tough questions to get Bill Ayers to say things that make Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan look like paragons of open-mindedness, moderation and logic.
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Saturday, February 22, 2003

# Posted 9:52 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LE MONDE C'EST BON! Matt Yglesias takes advantage of his Francophonics to discover some interesting details about Hans Blix's ultimatum to Saddam.

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Reader RF points out that Blix's published letter to the government of Iraq mandates the destruction of the missile production facilities what Matt is concerned about. Plus, Blix now seems to be demanding evidence to back up Iraq's claim that it has dismantled its WMD arsenal.
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# Posted 9:41 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NOT JOSH CHAFETZ: Oxford student? Yale graduate? Former TNR staffer? It's Asher Price, of course. Check out his article on terrorist activity in the UK. Andrew Sullivan trashed it, but I think it's really good.
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# Posted 9:20 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RUFFINI GOES HOLLYWOOD: What if a Republican became the star of the West Wing? This post is pure genius.

Also, check out Patrick's challenge to prevailing definitions of peace.
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# Posted 9:12 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE ANTI-SEMITISM: It's not every day that a three-thousand year-old phenomenon gets referred to as "news". But news it is when the prominent Americans of both right and left have begun to make anti-Semitism acceptable once again.

But this is America. We are going to fight prejudice and we are going to win. Let the anti-Semites be warned.

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# Posted 8:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DEMS' AUTOPSY RESULTS: Noam Scheiber on how pollsters hijacked the 2002 campaign.

Plus, how Wes Clark is undermining his own reputation as the last Democratic hopeful with serious credibility on national security issues.
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# Posted 8:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

US INVADES THE PHILIPPINES: The WaPo takes the administration to task for dispatching US forces to fight Muslim guerrillas without providing any public justification for it -- a surprising choice considering that this is only the third time US ground forces have been ordered into combat since the Gulf War.

What really gets me about this decision is the fact that Republicans spent so much time complaining about how the Clinton administration stretched US forces too thin by deploying them to protect interests that were far from vital. Or as Condi put it, it isn't the job of the 82nd Airborne to walk kids to school.

Now while there may be good reasons to fight in the Philippines, it's hard to imagine that our objectives there as important as they are in Iraq, Afghanistan or a half dozen other Middle Eastern/Central Asian locales. Focus, people.
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# Posted 8:04 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DICTATORS FOR PEACE: Having offended the 19 member states of New Europe, Jacques Chirac is now looking for other allies in his struggle to prevent a US invasion of Iraq.

Chirac's new friends consist of dozens of African heads of state, who have issued a joint statement declaring that "There is an alternative to war." While I am no expert on African politics, I have to imagine that the democratic credentials of Africa's heads of state don't exactly match those of New Europe.

And I'd also have to imagine that while there are alternatives to war, quite a few of Africa's heads of state chose war first when it came to solving their own problems. It looks like the only one who can save Chirac now is Hans Blix.

UPDATE: Instapundit links to Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe's praise of Chirac.
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# Posted 7:49 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BLIX'S MOTIVES: A week ago, Blix was saying that the level of Saddam's cooperation with the inspectors was acceptable. Now he has told Iraq that it has to dismantle its outlawed missiles by March 1 or else.

What accounts for the change of heart? I think Blix has had just about enough of being attacked from all sides. He wants either to be left alone to finish the inspections the way he wants them done or to wash his hands of the whole matter and let the US armed forces take over.

There is, of course, the chance that either the Americans or the French have been tacitly supporting what seems like Blix's independent initiative. If the US knows that Saddam will refuse Blix's demands, then the deadline will end the diplomatic struggle at the UN. If the French know that Saddam will accept Blix's demands, then Blix's new credibility will force the US to accept an indefinite extension of the inspections.

Hold on to your seats...
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# Posted 3:23 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MORE ENGAGEMENT: In an NYT op-ed, the Clinton administration's US Trade Rep argues that freeing Middle Eastern markets from crippling state restricitons will promote trade and, by extension peace.

While I am all for freer markets and more trade, no one should have any illusions about their bringing peace. Remember what trade theorists said in Europe before WWI? That's right: that the nations of Europe would never fight because it would disrupt trade. While one example does not an argument make, the fact is that trade has no record of preventing wars.

Clinton's Trade Rep also says that trade will promote growth, thus reducing poverty and, by extension, terrorism. How many times do we have to go over this? The "root causes" of terrorism are not poverty and deprivation. Bolivians haven't shown much of an interest in bombing the Pentagon, have they?
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# Posted 2:42 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

GRATUITIOUS SYMBOLISM: Must every NYT/WaPo article about foreign nations' attitudes towards the United States include references to the local McDonalds?

In today's profile of Polish attitudes toward the US, a Polish economist jokes that he is buying a McKielbasa (yes, there really is such a thing) because it symbolizes Polish-American cooperation.

Amusing enough. But the problem is that journalists have begun to treat local attitudes toward McDonalds as a proxy for local attitudes toward the US. Whenever rioters trash a McDonalds it is seen as a sign of anti-Americanism. But these rioters are the same people who patronized McDonalds before they trashed and the same people who will go back again once the franchise is rebuilt.

(You might be thinking, "Really? Isn't trashing one of your usual hangouts a little hypocritical?" Yes, it is. But I can personally verify that in Argentina, McDonalds was still extremely popular despite being victimized in riots the year before. In contrast, local banks still hadn't taken the armor plating off of their branch windows.)

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that focusing on McDonalds can be quite misleading. Take the Poland profile for example. People there seem to like McDonalds. But polls show that more than half are against a war with Iraq. Guess which fact gets more attention? In fact, there wasn't a single quote from an anti-war Pole.

(Yes, I am capable of complaining about media bias that favors the right. Though is suspect this was just incompetent reporting.)

Interestingly only 2000 protesters marched against the war in Warsaw, despite majority opposition. Now there's an interesting phenomenon. Maybe the NYT correspondent should explain that.

Btw, the NYT profile of East German attitudes toward the US is also a striking example of unbalanced journalism, this time in the usual leftward direction. It seems East Germans hold the US responsible for their impoverishment (relative to West Germans, not Eastern Europeans) but give the US no credit for holding off the Soviet threat or supporting reunification.

A more perceptive reporter might've wondered whether it is in East Germans' self-interest to oppose the war. Unlike the EU applicants to their east, the East Germans already enjoy the benefits of memberships, in addition to the massive subsidies the West Germans have poured in since reunification. If Germany and France can prevent the US from invading Iraq, thus reinforcing their dominance within the EU, that will directly benefit the East Germans.

Looking at domestic politics, the East Germans also have a strong interest in pulling Germany to the left, since so many of them support the Party of Democratic Socialism, or PDS, the successor to the East German Communist Party. A successful invasion might pull German politics to the right, making it harder for the PDS to form coalition governments at the state level, let alone the national one.

And here's one more reason to think that East German attitudes on the war reflect less than high-minded pacifism. Surprisingly enough, it's a reason I pulled from today's NYT, so some editor should have noticed what was going on. Anyway, it seems that Germany's high-cost/high-regulation markets are of much less interest to foreign investors than low-cost/low-regulation Eastern European markets. Stronger Franco-German control of the EU means less of a threat from freer markets in Eastern Europe.

(Conversely, Poles' lack of interest in marching despite their anti-war prefences may reflect an interesting in keeping foreign investment flowing.)

Finally, I can testify from personal experience that McDonalds is quite popular in East Germany. Thus the NYT would be wise to remember that there always those willing to bite the hand that feeds them.
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Thursday, February 20, 2003

# Posted 3:26 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DUKAKIS IN A TANK: Josh Marshall comments on the lack of any Democratic politicians with credibility on national security issues.
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# Posted 3:11 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

RELUCTANT HAWK: Kevin Drum compiles a long list of administration missteps in preparing for war.

If you click on Kevin's links, though, you'll see that what he's worrying about is mostly a set of bad ideas that are floating around Washington but don't seem to have all that much of a chance of becoming official policy. Still, it's worth reading about all these bad ideas, because:

a) some of them will make it further up the policy ladder and have to be shot down.

b) anti-war activists will use them as evidence that the US has bad intentions for postwar Iraq.

Remember, knowing is half the battle!
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# Posted 2:57 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HOMELAND INSECURITY: A pair of former NSC officials explain how Al Qaeda might launch its next attack -- and what we can do about it.
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# Posted 2:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

FLORIDA PALESTINIANS arrested for supporting terror attacks in Israel.

Take a look at the brief bios of the men arrested. Educated men. University lecturers. Poverty is not the problem. The problem is hate.
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# Posted 2:31 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

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# Posted 2:27 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CHIRAC AND A HARD PLACE: New Europe responds to French EUnilateralism.

(And the German opposition weighs in as well.)
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# Posted 7:51 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LAUGH 'TIL YOU CRY: Video from last Saturday's protest in New York. Josh actually posted this link a couple days ago, but I didn't click on it because I had no idea how outrageous it was. Now I know.

PS Quick Time and broadband required.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2003

# Posted 10:32 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS: Compare the following opinion columns by Iraqi National Congress leaders Ahmad Chalabi and Kanan Makiya. Chalabi's is from the WSJ, Makiya's from the Guardian. (Also note the Guardian's fawning interview with Makiya).

The first thing you will notice about the two columns -- both critical of the US plan for a military government in postwar Iraq -- is how much softer Chalabi's tone is. Sensibly, Chalabi observes that
For Iraq to rejoin the international community under a democratic system, it is essential to end the Baathist control over all aspects of politics and civil society. Iraq needs a comprehensive program of de-Baathification even more extensive than the de-Nazification effort in Germany after World War II. You cannot cut off the viper's head and leave the body festering. Unfortunately, the proposed US plan will do just that if it does not dismantle the Baathist structures.
Chalabi's harshest criticism of the US plan is that it would "ultimately leave important decisions about the future of Iraq in the hands of either foreign occupiers or Saddam's officials."

In contrast, Makiya writes that the American plan's
driving force is appeasement of the existing bankrupt Arab order, and ultimately the retention under a different guise of the repressive institutions of the Baath and the army.
This difference in tone reflects the fact that: a) Makiya has no official position in the INC and can thus say things that Chalabi can't; and b) Chalabi dares not antagonize the Wall Street Journal and its readers with anti-American tirades like Makiya's, since it is the only leading American newspaper whose editors openly support the INC.

But the real question here is why the journalistic standard bearers of the British left and American right have adopted identical positions on how to run postwar Iraq. The answer to this riddle can be found in the following quote from Makiya's column:
The plan is the brainchild of the would-be coup-makers of the CIA and their allies in the Department of State, who now wish to achieve through direct American control over the people of Iraq what they so dismally failed to achieve on the ground since 1991.
Now, as any good conspiracy theorist knows, the CIA stopped directing coups in the 1970s. With Langley out of action, its responsibilities fell not to the State Department, but rather to the Pentagon.

Surely, you ask, a professor of Middle Eastern studies such as Makiya must know this? Of course he does. But Makiya and Chalabi also know that it is the Pentagon which has waged bureaucratic war against the State Deparment on the INC's behalf.

In a classic irony of the post-Vietnam era, America's generals want to hand over responsibility for their mission to Iraqi civilians while the State Department insists that the US armed forces govern Iraq in the aftermath of an invasion.

Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal has taken the side of the Pentagon and decided to support the INC. The Guardian, on the other hand, has gleefully taken advantage of the opportunity to publish anti-American invective from a nominal American ally such as Makiya. Presumably, the Guardian's editors have no idea that they have become the unwitting implements of a Pentagon conspiracy.

Having cut through the strange politics of the INC's coverage, we come to the more practical question of whether the United States should support the INC. The answer is no.
The State Department recognizes -- correctly -- that the INC has failed to demonstrate that it can function as a unified whole, rather than as a collection of egos and factions. Nor has the INC shown that it has a realistic sense of how to construct a democratic state.

In addition, State recognizes that the INC has only limited support in Iraq itself, as a result of its long-term exiles tenuous connections to the current population. Moreover, neither the INC nor the other exile organizations effectively represent either the Kurds of northern Iraq or the Shi'ites of the south. As such, the INC's constant insistence that it should head a transitional postwar government would be a much greater affromt to the ideal of democracy than would a US military occupation.

With the US military in charge, Iraqis of all ethnic, religious and political backgrounds can be sure that those with the final word in Baghdad will play by the rules and not favor any particular faction. Only in such an environment can democracy flourish.

Update: Read Overspill's insightful comments on Chalabi's column.
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# Posted 9:53 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

COVERT REACTION: Is the administration getting ready to double cross the Kurds?
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# Posted 9:40 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

2+2=5? Is there such a thing as a NYT math correspondent? If so, the foreign affairs desk needs some tutoring. In an article on anti-Americanism, Jane Perlez reports that
As the possibility of war against Iraq rises, especially a war that the United States may fight virtually alone, so does anti-Americanism in the streets, newspapers and cafes of foreign cities.
Now as far as I can tell, there is a significant difference between fighting alone and fighting with 19 European allies.

But then again, perhaps I just don't understand the new math, which goes something like this: Give that France = 8 allies, Germany = 8 allies, and Belgium = 3 allies, the total number of US allies equals 19-8-8-3 = 0. Amazing. It's the first mathematical proof of unilateralism!

Also worth noting is the same article's absurd report on anti-Americanism in Pakistan, which it attributes to our opposition to Saddam, support of Israel, and victory over the Taliban. Not once does the article suggest that the real cause of Pakistanit resentment is American support for dicator Pervez Musharraf. But it seems that if the Times can figure out how to hold either American or Israeli militarism responsible for something, all other causes are demoted to being footnotes.
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# Posted 9:24 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

NYT RETRACTS HEADLINE: Yesterday I pointed out the absurdity of the NYT headline: "Israelis Arrest 3 Women in a Joke Gone Wrong."

If you follow the link today, you get to the same story, except for the headline, which now reads: "Woman Offers Details of Israeli Detention Methods". Oh and the number of unnamed dead Palestinians in the add-on below is up to eleven. Glad to see the Times still has its priorities straight.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2003

# Posted 10:30 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

KRUGMAN. If I hadn't spent two minutes reading his column, I could've re-brushed my teeth instead.
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# Posted 10:25 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

DEAD HORSE BEATEN: The NYT headline reads: "Israelis Arrest 3 Women in a Joke Gone Wrong."

Unsurprisingly, one of the arrested women claimed that the arrest was "a painful joke" while the Israeli army commented that intelligence reports had indicates the women might be potential suicide bombers. Typical.

But the Times doesn't even explain who supposedly played a joke on whom. Do Israelis soldiers arrest people for fun? Did one of the soldiers know the women being arrested? This coverage is closer to being surreal than it is to being prejudiced.

And to cap it all off, a Reuters dispatch added on at the end of the story informs us: "2 Killed in Gaza Clashes". So, even though two human beings actually lost their lives, the big story of the day was that the Israelis arrested someone by accident for unknown reasons?

Ah, humanity.
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# Posted 10:10 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BEHOLD THE QUAGMIRE: As is customary before each American military engagement, the NYT has begun to speculate whether it will become another Vietnam. As one scholar has observed, this is how the NYT and other media outlets imply criticism of administration policy when they are concerned about criticizing it directly, usually because it is so popular.

To give you some sense of how far the media will go in its search for quagmires, here are a couple quotes from 1989:
Panama “might end up looking far more like Vietnam than like Grenada." -- NYT

There is “the possibility of a long and decidedly unheroic slog through the jungles and mountains of the isthumus in search of Noriega” -- Dan Rather
[Cited by Jonathan Mermin, Political Communication, Vol. 13 No. 2, 1996, p.185]

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# Posted 8:16 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BRITAIN'S ANSWER TO A.N.S.W.E.R., PART II: After my initial, disappointig foray into the rumored conspiracy at the heart of the British anti-war movement, I decided that I ought to look for information about the Stop The War Coalition (SWC) and Socialist Workers' Party (SWP) in the most obvious place of all: their websites.

What I found there (or rather what I didn't find) seems to suggest that both organizations have something to hide. While the SWC website provides contact information for the hundreds of organizations that have affiliated with it, it provides virtually no information about SWC itself or how it is run.

Try as I might, I could not find a full list of the SWC's officers. It does have a steering committee of 30-plus individuals, but gives no indications of what this committee does, when it meets or how it was "elected". (And to get to the steering committee page you have to notice a small box to the left of SWC's statement of objectives on the site's index page).

If you follow the link called "press" on the SWC index page, you come to a list of press releases followed by dozens and dozens of photographs of past marches, which take quite some time to load. If you wait for them to finish and scroll all the way down to the end of the page, you finally come to a list of officers responsible for press relations. Their names are Andrew Burgin, Alistair Alexander, John Rees and Lindsey German.

If you then go back to the steering committee page, you can find out a little more about these four. Andrew Burgin works at a socialist bookshop in London. A Google search turned up this op-ed he wrote for the Guardian.

There is no information there, however, about Alistair Alexander. If you head over to Google, you find out that the Guardian has a technology correspondent by the name of Alistair Alexander and that a private individual by the same name has decided to post pictures of his piercings on the web, including his Prince Albert.

As far as I can tell, there is no reason that all three Alistair Alexanders aren't the same person. But who knows?

Finally, we come to Lindsey German and John Rees. Who do they represent? You guessed it: the Socialist Wokers Party. German, according to the press site, is also the "convenor" of SWC, a position entailing some degree of authority that the SWC website doesn't see fit to mention. If you look at the pressclips at the bottom of yesterday's post, however, you will notice that German seems to be the SWC spokesmen quoted most often by the British papers (and never identified as an SWP figure). The other leading spokesman is Andrew Murray of the railway union ASLEF.

The other officer mentioned on the SWC homepage is Jane Shallice, the treasurer. When I ran her name through Google I ran across an SWC press release on a small anti-sanctions site that actually listed German, Murray and Shallice, along with a few others, as officers of SWC. Interestingly, the site also contains a long rant about the authoritarian methods that the Socialist Workers' Party exploits in order to crush resistance to its leadership of the British socialist movement.

According to Google, Jane Shallice is also a regular contributor to the Socialist Review, the monthly magazine of -- you guessed it -- the SWP, which is edited by -- you guessed it again -- Lindsay German.

The last thing about the SWC webpage worth mentinoning is its statement of principles. According to the site, "The resolution below, setting out the Coalition's platform, was ratified at public meetings held in October 2001 in London." In addition, thes statement notes that "The Stop the War Coalition was formed on September 21st, 2001 at a public meeting of over 2,000 people in London."

Who was invited to these meetings? Who ran them? What was said? Where exactly were they held? What does ratification entail? What else did these meetings ratify? Who knows. The SWC certainly doesn't seem interested in sharing the answers to these moderately important questions.

(By way of contrast, the Socialist Alliance, another leftist organization whose website I ran across while surfing, published minutes of its executive committee meetings, has a copy of its constitution online and provides all sorts of other relevant information about its inner workngs.)

So there you have it. Somehow, I expect there will be more to come.

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# Posted 3:34 PM by Dan  

GARY HART has received quite a bit of heat for his comments in two speeches in the San Francisco area last week, which some in the punditocracy said might be criticism of Jews and immigrants.

He gave another speech at Oxford yesterday on "National Security in the 21st Century" which was very similar to the one he delivered here a few weeks ago. I had the opportunity to speak with him yesterday for a few moments before the speech about his comments, and he provided this answer:

"I didn’t have anybody in mind. My response was, I thought I would hear something from the Cubans. What is my argument in reverse? I did some interviews with the Jewish press, and I said I would find this very hard to argue the negative, that there are occasions where Americans should put their country of origin ahead of America? Absurd."

Tucker Carlson, who said: "He was talking about Jewish Americans" is, in my opinion, is wrong. How many Jews are originally from Israel? Sure, those of us from a certain wandering tribe are all "from" Israel at some point, but I would describe my original homelands as somewhere in Eastern Europe. I don't think Hart will win, but he certainly has a better chance than Al Sharpton, regardless of what NRO says.
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# Posted 11:08 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

HATCHET JOB: This past Sunday, the New York Times' Magazine featured Robert Kagan -- FYI the conservative foreign affairs expert -- in its "Questions For... " column.

While the accompanying photo was quite flattering, the interview itself crossed the line from being tough to being a hatchet job. Instead of asking serious questions to a serious thinker, the Times' correspondent resorted to ad hominem attacks.

In four consecutive questions, the Times tried to get Kagan to admit that he was a chicken-hawk. In responding to this discredited charge, Kagan was polite enough not to ridicule his interviewer. But that's Bob for you. He's just a nice guy.

The Times' other line of attack consisted of a less than surprising but more than pathetic effort to tar Kagan as chauvinist, in both the sexist and nationalist senses of the word. The title of the interview, "Europeans are Sissies", says it all.

Kagan, of course, never used the words. He is far too sophisticated to resort to name-calling. And the Times should have known that, because the occasion for the interview was the publication of Kagan's new book, Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order.

I'll end this post with a caveat: Perhaps the "Questions For..." column is consistently tough on all its subject, not just conservatives. But there is no question that the Times has a bad habit of publishing soft bios of hardcore leftists such as Leslie Cagan and Bill Ayers. (Note the publication date on the Ayers piece.)

If the Times wants to protects its reputation as the paper of record rather than the paper of the left, it better clean up its act.
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Monday, February 17, 2003

# Posted 9:50 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

BRITAIN'S ANSWER TO A.N.S.W.E.R.: For a million protesters turn out, someone has to do a lot of setting up in advance. As Americans discovered in the aftermath of the DC anti-war protests last month, those someones sometimes turn out to be Stalinists, organized under the umbrella of a front-organization knowns as ANSWER (an acronym for "Act Now to Stop War and End Racism") .

Unsurprisingly, the NY Times, Washington Post and other mainstream media outlets provided misleading and superficial coverage of ANSWER's role in the protests. Again unsurprisingly, the blogosphere was one step ahead of its professional cousins, thanks in large part to Instapundit.

In the aftermath of Saturday's protests in Europe, however, neither the mainstream media nor the blogosphere has shown much interest in who was responsible for getting people out on the streets. I didn't think about myself much until I sat down for a drink with an anarchist friend of mine who had led the Oxford contingent down to London for the anti-war march.

In to response to a few basic questions about his organizing efforts, my friend launched into a tirade against the Stop the War Coalition and its controlling member, the Socialist Workers' Party (SWP). According to my friend, the SWP has a long-running habit of setting up front organizations to control Britain's social movement du jour. Before 9/11, they used the front known as Globalise Resistance to control the anti-IMF/World Bank movement.

What makes the SWP truly objectionable, however, is not that it is opportunistic, but rather that it is authoritarian and manipulative (or as my friend put it, 'Bolshevist'). Even though its pretends to organize broad coalitions, SWP does its best to exclude all others from the planning process. Meeting times are never announced so that outsiders never have the chance to interfere with SWP proposals, which reflect the input of the same unelected executive committee that dominates all SWP activities.

SWP has also refined the art of co-opting other participants in its pet movements. Typically, it tries to flood participating organizations with its own publicity material, espousing idiosyncratic SWP views on all sorts of matters. This material includes items such as protest placards that amateur protesters would have to invest a considerable amount of their own time in making if they weren't given them by others. Thus, to the casual observer, it might seem that these protests are full of SWP backers.

A final practice that particularly irritates my friend is SWP's efforts to spell out which slogans will be chanted at every march. Thus, in London this past Saturday, my friend direct the Oxford anti-war marching band to drown out an SWP speaker who was trying to get the crowd to chant his slogans. Ahh, the beauty of the united Left.

Now, presumably, my friend's comments on SWP and its tactics aren't the final word on the matter. After all, he has a very personal interest in ensuring that others see SWP for what it (allegedly) really is.

So what does the British press say? The Guardian, it seems, isn't saying much at all. Even in its Special Report: The Anti-War Movement, information on the Stop the War Coalition and the SWP is hard to find.

One correspondent reported that "British marchers have spurned isolation for solidarity, and fear for fury. Their momentum came almost from nowhere...they bore no social or political barcode." Hmmm...

Another commented that "There were, of course, the usual suspects - CND, Socialist Workers' Party, the anarchists. But even they looked shocked at the number of their fellow marchers: it is safe to say they had never experienced such a mass of humanity."

The Guardian's editorial page asserted that "This weekend's march in London was both pluralistic and altruistic. Those opposing a war included not only lifelong dissenters and those who view American foreign policy as the root of all terrorism but also deeply unradical adults and children of all colours, faiths and ages. It was, in the words of one television reporter, the "mother of all focus groups".

Finally, in its round-up of web-reporting on the anti-war protests, the Guardian does link to this informative piece about the far left's dominant role of American protests. But when it comes to SWP, I'm still looking...

Now, surely if the Guardian has something to hide the Telegraph will expose it. But the Telegraph seems to agree that
The centre of the capital was paralysed by noisy but peaceful people from many political backgrounds. Former members of the Armed Forces, clergymen and young children all joined the march to Hyde Park.
While it takes a few cheapshots at the unreconstructed Communists in the crowd, it also quotes Stop the War Coalition spokesmen at length.

Well, it getting late and I'm getting discouraged. But I will be back on the story tomorrow.

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