Haggai's Place

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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

:: Thursday, June 03, 2004 ::

Gotta check those blogs
From an article from last week about John Ashcroft's warnings of a potential major terrorist attack in America this summer:
In warning Americans to brace for a possible attack, Ashcroft cited what he called “credible intelligence from multiple sources,” saying that “just after New Year's, al-Qaida announced openly that preparations for an attack on the United States were 70 percent complete.… After the March 11 attack in Madrid, Spain, an al-Qaida spokesman announced that 90 percent of the arrangements for an attack in the United States were complete.”

But terrorism experts tell NBC News there's no evidence a credible al-Qaida spokesman ever said that, and the claims actually were made by a largely discredited group, Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades, known for putting propaganda on the Internet.
The article goes on to give the details about how that group is largely believed to be a joke. Maybe the attorney general should have read about it in this mid-March post from In Context about how "Abu Hafs al-Masri" appears to be Arabic for "one dude with a computer and a fax machine."
2:22 PM
:: Tuesday, June 01, 2004 ::
Begin-related myths repudiated?
A couple of them, maybe. Here's part of an interview with long-time Likud bigshot Moshe Arens:
bitterlemons: Apropos Egypt, does the projected Egyptian involvement in restoring security in Gaza have a strategic dimension for Israel?

Arens: It could have, though I'm not optimistic at all. Egypt is already in blatant violation of its peace treaty with Israel by not having an ambassador here and not dealing with the [Rafah] tunnels, so I'm not optimistic they'll help. [On the other hand], if the Egyptians are ready to take over the Gaza Strip that would be a significant development. I'm prepared to give them Gaza. Begin should have done that years ago. Begin was dead set against even allowing UN observers in Gaza, not to speak of an Egyptian presence, because he saw Gaza as part of the Land of Israel.

bitterlemons: According to peace process lore from the late 1970s, it was Begin who offered Gaza to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and the latter who refused, arguing that it was Palestinian and not Egyptian land.

Arens: The myth that Begin offered Gaza to Sadat is totally without foundation. He should have told Sadat that if Egypt wants Sinai back, it has to take Gaza with it.
I've definitely heard the "Begin offered Gaza to Sadat--and he didn't even want it!" story in some circles, but Arens' version makes a lot more sense to me.

There's also an article dealing with another common belief about the peace process with Egypt, regarding the bulldozing of the Israeli settlement town of Yamit during the Sinai withdrawal:
Moshe Sasson, Israel's ambassador to Egypt at the time...writes [in his new book] that contrary to the prevailing public opinion, it was not [then defense minister] Ariel Sharon who decided to bulldoze the Yamit bloc after its evacuation. It was the personal decision of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

4:34 PM
:: Monday, May 31, 2004 ::
The Washington Post is "en fuego"
In addition to this front-page article about the rampant mendacity of the Bush campaign, there's also some political hardball in a column by William Whitlow, a retired Marine general:
It is inconceivable and derelict not to have a viable war termination strategy for an operation as complex as a major theater war. America's citizens and our service members deserve far better for their sacrifices. This combination of things -- misleading the president with false intelligence and omitting a principal element from our war strategy -- is reason enough to seek change in the vice presidency and senior defense leadership, civilian and military.

It is our patriotic duty to speak out when egregiously flawed policies and strategies needlessly cost American lives. It is time for the president to ask those responsible for the flawed Iraqi policy -- civilian and military -- to resign from public service. Absent such a change in the current administration, many of us will be forced to choose a presidential candidate whose domestic policies we may not like but who understands firsthand the effects of flawed policies and incompetent military strategies and who fully comprehends the price.
More tough reality in a column by Fred Hiatt, the editor of the Post's editorial page, talking about the prison abuse scandal:
Bush could have responded differently. He could have embraced the heroes such as Spec. Joseph Darby, who sounded the alarm; William J. Kimbro, the Navy dog handler who refused to sic his dogs on prisoners; Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, who wrote an honest report. He could have apologized to the people of Iraq, appointed an investigator from outside the chain of command, pledged to abide by the Geneva Conventions. Instead, he opted for a Nixonian strategy of damage containment, and a summer of piecemeal disclosure.

Who pays the price for the president's dishonesty? Soldiers such as Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli and his troops, who, as The Post's Scott Wilson reported last week, are out in Baghdad's slums, fighting insurgents one hour and fixing sewers the next. The prison scandal and the administration's failed response haven't doomed those efforts, but they've lengthened the odds. They've given aid and comfort to the enemy.
Ouch. The truth hurts sometimes.
10:17 AM

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