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Your humble narrator is...
...a research analyst at a think tank in the Washington DC area. Born in Israel, raised in Kentucky, movie fanatic and sports nut.
My first-hand account of the Palestinian divestment conference at the U. of Michigan
Archives

:: Friday, November 07, 2003 ::

Why does Wes Clark hate America?
There he goes again, wanting to bring Saddam back and refusing to admit that anything good is happening in Iraq:
Let me be clear: there has been some real progress in Iraq. Iraqis have a better future with Saddam Hussein out of power. In many areas, life is improving. It is inspiring to see brave Iraqis working with Americans to rebuild their country. But seven months after the fall of Saddam; violence is growing, and the enemy's morale and momentum is increasing with each deadly attack.
In an uncontrollable spasm of Bush hatred, he opposes the money that Congress approved for the re-construction and indicates more clearly than ever that he just wants to "cut and run":
[W]e shouldn't give the President $87 billion until he has a plan that will work. President Bush keeps telling us we should stay the course. But what we really must do is change course...

Every American should understand: early exit means retreat or defeat. There can be neither. We need a success strategy -for it is only success that can honor the sacrifice of so many American men and women; it is only success that will allow Iraq to stand on its own; and it is only success that will allow our soldiers to come home.
What sort of pie-in-the-sky Kofi-Annan-worshipping loser would just want to turn over everything in Iraq to the UN and wash our hands of it? Wes Clark, that's who:
The Coalition Provisional Authority, by which America controls Iraq today, should be replaced. But it is simply unrealistic to have the United Nations take over this daunting task - it's not able and it's not willing. Instead we must create a new international structure - the Iraqi Reconstruction and Democracy Council -- similar to the one we created in Bosnia with representatives from Europe, the United States, Iraq's neighbors, and other countries that will support our effort.
And what about the troops on the ground, Mr. 4-Star-Army-General? Gonna bring 'em all home and lose the whole ballgame? Send more of them there and have more helicopters shot down? You've got nothing!
When it comes to our force levels, it's possible that some may need to be added initially to create the right mix of capabilities. You cannot measure success by a reduction in forces, and you can't declare failure by an increase in forces. It's better to do the job right so we can succeed and then bring our troops home.

One mistake in Vietnam was trying to use conventional forces to fight an unconventional war. The more conventional forces we have in Iraq, the more logistics we need. The more unarmored humvees and trucks we have, the greater our vulnerability to roadside bombs. Most of our losses are being taken in routine patrolling and transit - not in active counter-insurgency efforts. The right mix of forces -- more special forces and other lighter units -- will reduce our "footprint," logistics tail and vulnerability, while increasing our ability to strike hard.

We have to do all we can to find out who's attacking our soldiers, and to produce the actionable intelligence that will enable us to strike accurately and hard. Success depends on good intelligence work and good rapport with the civilian population. Yet intelligence specialists and linguists are scarce.

We need to take the linguists and intelligence specialists now involved in the search for weapons of mass destruction and assign them to our military counter-insurgency efforts -- and we need to augment that with new technologies and more linguists drawn from loyal Arab Americans. We can ask international inspectors to take over the search for weapons They are ready, willing and able to perform this mission. That will make it possible to find the people who are killing our soldiers.
Oh, yeah, weapons of mass destruction, almost forgot. Who cares, we didn't invade because of them anyway.

Don't even get me started about his "plan" to turn over more sovereignty to Iraqis. This France-loving wuss actually agrees with their critique of Bush on this point! Wesley Kanne Clark? Wesley Petain Clark is more like it!
There has been a false debate between the French, who recommended turning all government functions over to Iraqis now - and the Bush Administration, which insists on waiting until a constitution is written and elections are held.

The French are wrong: we cannot transfer full authority to Iraqis before they are ready. But the administration is also wrong: we can give the Iraqis a much bigger sense of ownership over their country and move more quickly towards a government that answers to its people. Until Iraqis believe that they can control their future, they will huddle in fear and watch others attack - rather than stand with pride, expose the guerrillas and stop the violence.

We should help the Iraqis move immediately to establish their own government, a government to replace the existing council. Because that council was chosen by Americans, it is not seen as legitimate in the eyes of too many Iraqis. But right now, there are 50 city and regional councils in Iraq - elected by the Iraqi people. Just as the State Legislatures used to elect members to our Senate in our own country, these councils should select new members of an interim government drawing from the existing governing council.

This new government would represent Iraq internationally - and control oil revenues, funds, and any frozen assets through a transparent, internationally audited process. The transfer of government functions to this new government should be ongoing, week by week, as soon as it is ready.

This interim government would then launch a new process to write a Constitution. Such a constitution would be an Iraqi document -- not written by Americans or people appointed by Americans - and would set the terms for free and fair elections.
Where's the strategy? Where are the specifics? Where's the moral clarity? This guy's got none of 'em.

EPILOGUE: I'm not sure why I decided to take this approach to posting about Clark's Iraq plan. I guess I'm a wee bit fed up with the "Bush's approach or France's approach," "Support Bush or withdraw immediately" dichotomies that some people like to set up as the only aspects of the debate that are out there. You don't have to agree with Clark on all of this, or even most of it, but it doesn't get any more dishonest than pretending that he's just Kucinich in a uniform.
5:54 PM
:: Wednesday, November 05, 2003 ::
Prisoner swap?
I'm not sure what to make of the various details about a potential Israeli deal with Hizbullah to swap prisoners. Ze'ev Schiff weighed in today:
Here we have a Lebanese Shi'ite organization that is considered terrorist, which threatens Israel and at the same time conducts negotiations over freeing prisoners. Clearly any Israeli surrender to such threats could only have a negative outcome.

Another issue concerns the hand-over of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and detainees to Hezbollah in the framework of the deal. Israel was extremely miserly when it came to freeing prisoners as a gesture of goodwill toward former Palestinian prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, who said he opposed terrorism. Now Israel is ready to to be generous with the Hezbollah, which threatens the country and calls for its eradication.

Why shouldn't those prisoners be freed as part of negotiations with the new Palestinian prime minister Ahmed Qureia, or as a gesture toward him if he takes practical steps against terror? That imbalance on Israel's part appears strange, and the ministers should get an answer from the prime minister on the subject.
The bombs that were just found on the Israel/Lebanon border are probably related to what Schiff was talking about.

There was also this article from about a month ago by Dr. Ely Karmon of the Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, which was even more critical regarding the apparent difference in negotiationg tactics with Hizbullah and the Palestinians:
It is hard to understand the Israeli Government’s agreement to include hundreds of “heavy” Palestinian prisoners in the present prisoner exchange given the government’s refusal to award the same “prize” to the government of Abu-Mazin [Mahmud Abbas] — a move that would have offered a good chance of boosting relative quiet in the territories, and that would have spared many casualties in attacks that would have been prevented. What will now happen is that the Palestinians will view Hizballah, not any Palestinian government that is set up, as the address for the fulfillment of their demands.

11:09 PM
:: Monday, November 03, 2003 ::
A gloomy picture
Beware too hasty of an "Iraqification," says Fareed Zakaria in his latest column:
There are no shortcuts out. Iraq is America's problem. It could have been otherwise, but in the weeks after the war the administration, drunk with victory, refused to share power with the world. Now there can be only one goal--success. The first task of winning the peace in Iraq is winning the war--which is still being waged in the Sunni heartland. And winning it might take more troops, or different kinds of troops (send back the Marines). It might take a mixture of military force and bribes--to win over some Sunni leaders. But whatever it takes, the United States must do it. Talk about a drawdown of troops sends exactly the wrong message to the guerrillas. In the words of one North Vietnamese general, "We knew that if we waited, one day the Americans would have to go home."

"The central problem in Vietnam," says Brookings's Kenneth Pollack, "was that we had a corrupt and ineffective local government that did not inspire either the allegiance or the confidence of the Vietnamese people. Whatever happened militarily became secondary to this fundamental political reality." We don't have that problem in Iraq. But a hasty Iraqification will almost certainly produce it.
And yes, he still thinks the war was a good idea (that was a couple of columns back). Although he didn't quite admit that the potential of Saddam eventually getting nuclear weapons appears to have been far less likely than anyone who supported the war had assumed, even for those (like me) who weren't so sure about the administration's claims about aluminum tubes and uranium from Africa.
2:14 PM
:: Sunday, November 02, 2003 ::
Yikes
15 US soldiers dead in a helicopter crash in Iraq, apparently from a missile attack from the ground. Is anyone seriously going to spin this as more "desperation" from anti-US guerrillas?
11:15 AM

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