Post-9-11 events and analyses
Saturday, October 23, 2004
Update on the Franklin/AIPAC investigation:
"Was he trying to inform AIPAC, or Israel, about the contents of the draft NSPD? Or rather, and perhaps more plausibly, was he trying to enlist the powerful Washington lobbying organization in advocating for a Iran-destabilization policy? In other words, is the Franklin case really about espionage, or is it a glimpse into the ugly sausage-making process by which Middle East policy gets decided in Washington and, in particular, in the Bush administration?.. On October 6, the Los Angeles Times
reported that Franklin had stopped cooperating with the FBI entirely. He had hired a high-profile lawyer, Plato Cacheris (of Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen fame), and had rejected a proposed plea agreement whose terms Franklin considers “too onerous,” according to the Los Angeles Times
" 9:10:07 AM
Al-Ahram: Europe's silent revolution: Profile of European Arab intellectual Tariq Ramadan. "By offering a new reading of Islam's primary sources, Ramadan wants to provide an alternate way of imagining Islam and Islamic rules .. "Our reading of our Islamic sources and references," he explains, "is much more about how we protect ourselves from the dominant civilisation. There is something in the way we invoke our Islamic references, the way we read our history, legacies and traditions. We tend to examine those references very often through what differentiates us from the West or from the Other, and not what there might be in common between those traditions and the Western tradition." .. "I think we need to be confident of our own legacy and heritage, and not make our relationship with the West the yardstick by which we measure everything."..
Despite his strong defence of Islamic traditions, Ramadan does not believe that an Islamic model of society exists per se. And this is perhaps where we can see most clearly the personal dilemma of Ramadan himself. His belief that many Western values can easily be reconciled with those of Islam means he does not believe that there is such a thing as an Islamic economic order or an Islamic state, for example. "These are just words and slogans," he insists. The problem, he continues, "is that we act as if everything in our culture of origin is right: but this is a wrong perception. Not everything in European culture is against Islamic principles, and by the same logic, not everything in the Egyptian or in any other Arab culture is in accordance with Islamic principles, either. There are many things in our culture that are not faithful to our religious principles." Thus he believes that a process of tajdeed (renewal) will eventually lead Muslims to a better understanding of the foundational texts. This process is likely, however, to be hampered by the lack of freedom prevalent in Muslim societies. .. "I am asking the Muslims in the West to be the voice of the voiceless" ..
Ramadan was about to begin a term as professor of Islamic ethics at the University of Notre Dame when [he was denied entry to the US]. But it was no surprise either when dozens of American scholars of Middle Eastern studies protested against the move in a petition to US Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier this month. 9:00:20 AM
Dickey: The Executioner's Song: "The well-orchestrated rise of Jordanian thug Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi to superterrorist stardom may soon come to an abrupt end. The Americans and the Iraqi government say they are closing in on him. .. How soon? Perhaps before Nov. 2? Iraqi officials in Baghdad are perfectly aware that if Zarqawi is betrayed, caught or killed, U.S. President George W. Bush will get a boost at the polls. “We will do anything to help our friend on the other side of the sea get elected,” one Iraqi official told me...
It’s important to remember how small this guy’s numbers are. Both U.S. military intelligence and sources with close ties to the rebels estimate Zarqawi has no more than a couple of hundred people answering directly to him. Homegrown Iraqi insurgents, on the other hand, number in the thousands, if not tens of thousands, and they are the ones carrying out scores of attacks on American soldiers every day. “They just want to push out the people who have occupied the country,” said the jihadist. “They are not fighting some grand international battle like Zarqawi.” Iraq has never been a cause for Zarqawi, it’s been his stage. ..
Zarqawi only started to get famous when Secretary of State Colin Powell tried to present him as the missing link between Saddam hussein and Osama bin Laden to help justify the rush to war last year. The evidence for a direct connection was thin and circumstantial, like so much in Powell’s presentation to the United Nations. But now Zarqawi’s name was on the record...
But, no, [catching Zarqawi] wouldn’t all be good news. The insurgency—the one that targets American soldiers—would still be alive and well, and very probably better off without this grandstanding butcher. Like many media creations, even his gruesome fame will fade quickly from the global consciousness. And bin Laden lives on." Related: Pincus: Iraq Called 'Springboard' for Insurgency Figure 8:39:34 AM
Muslim peacekeepers for Iraq nixed: Oct 18, 2004: "President George W. Bush rebuffed a plan last month for a Muslim peacekeeping force that would have helped the United Nations organize elections in Iraq, according to Saudi and Iraqi officials. As a result, the UN continues to have a skeletal presence in Iraq, with only four staff members working full time on preparing for elections set for the end of January. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has refused to establish a new UN headquarters in Baghdad unless countries commit troops for a special force to protect it.
Saudi leaders, including Crown Prince Abdullah, personally lobbied Bush in July to sign off on the plan to establish a contingent of several hundred troops from Arab and Muslim nations. Abdullah discussed the plan in a 10-minute phone conversation with Bush on July 28 after meeting with Secretary of State Colin Powell, according to Saudi officials familiar with the negotiations.
Diplomats said Annan accepted the plan. But the Bush administration objected because the special force would have been controlled by the UN instead of by U.S. military officers who run the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Muslim and Arab countries refused to work under U.S. command, and the initiative died in early September. ..
After meeting with Abdullah on July 28 in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, Powell called it "an interesting idea, a welcome idea." At that point, no countries had signed on to send troops, but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Algeria and Morocco were "seriously interested," the Saudi official said. Saudi diplomats also had presented the idea to officials in Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman.
Initially, the Saudis pressed to create a full-fledged peacekeeping force, possibly made up of several thousand Muslim troops. That force would have protected the UN mission and worked alongside Iraqi forces in other security functions. The Saudi official said Pakistan, which has one of the largest and most experienced armies in the Muslim world, was willing to commit several hundred soldiers to help start the process. But Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf insisted that other countries must commit forces before he would give final approval. Iraqi officials said they did not want countries that border Iraq to contribute to a security force, ruling out Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria, Iran and Turkey. The Saudis agreed with that condition and promised to provide financial support to the peacekeeping force and possibly to some of the nations that agreed to contribute troops...
At one point, the Saudis proposed that Muslim forces be placed under the command of the Iraqi government. That idea won over Allawi, but not the United States. "The Americans wanted ultimate control, and that made it impossible to make this work," said the Iraqi official. ..
UN envoy Ashraf Jehangir Qazi said .. the UN's limited presence in Iraq is a missed opportunity. "If our peacekeeping initiative had been adopted," he said, "the UN would have a much more active role in Iraq today."" 12:53:11 AM
Big G.O.P. Bid to Challenge Voters at Polls in Ohio:
"Republican Party officials in Ohio took formal steps yesterday to place thousands of recruits inside polling places on Election Day to challenge the qualifications of voters they suspect are not eligible to cast ballots. Party officials say their effort is necessary to guard against fraud arising from aggressive moves by the Democrats to register tens of thousands of new voters in Ohio, seen as one of the most pivotal battlegrounds in the Nov. 2 elections. ..
Ohio Democrats were struggling to match the Republicans' move, which had been rumored for weeks. Both parties had until 4 p.m. to register people they had recruited to monitor the election. Republicans said they had enlisted 3,600 by the deadline, many in heavily Democratic urban neighborhoods of Cleveland, Dayton and other cities. Each recruit was to be paid $100. The Democrats, who tend to benefit more than Republicans from large turnouts, said they had registered more than 2,000 recruits to try to protect legitimate voters rather than weed out ineligible ones. " The article also refers to pre-election-day challenges to incorrect voter addresses. 12:38:43 AM
Why so many still support Bush:
"Even after the final report of Charles Duelfer to Congress saying that Iraq did not have a significant WMD program, 72% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq had actual WMD (47%) or a major program for developing them (25%). Fifty-six percent assume that most experts believe Iraq had actual WMD and 57% also assume, incorrectly, that Duelfer concluded Iraq had at least a major WMD program. Kerry supporters hold opposite beliefs on all these points.
Similarly, 75% of Bush supporters continue to believe that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda, and 63% believe that clear evidence of this support has been found. Sixty percent of Bush supporters assume that this is also the conclusion of most experts, and 55% assume, incorrectly, that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Here again, large majorities of Kerry supporters have exactly opposite perceptions.
These are some of the findings of a new study of the differing perceptions of Bush and Kerry supporters, conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes and Knowledge Networks, based on polls conducted in September and October.
Steven Kull, director of PIPA, comments, "One of the reasons that Bush supporters have these beliefs is that they perceive the Bush administration confirming them. Interestingly, this is one point on which Bush and Kerry supporters agree." Eighty-two percent of Bush supporters perceive the Bush administration as saying that Iraq had WMD (63%) or that Iraq had a major WMD program (19%). Likewise, 75% say that the Bush administration is saying Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda. Equally large majorities of Kerry supporters hear the Bush administration expressing these views--73% say the Bush administration is saying Iraq had WMD (11% a major program) and 74% that Iraq was substantially supporting al Qaeda.
Steven Kull adds, "Another reason that Bush supporters may hold to these beliefs is that they have not accepted the idea that it does not matter whether Iraq had WMD or supported al Qaeda. Here too they are in agreement with Kerry supporters." Asked whether the US should have gone to war with Iraq if US intelligence had concluded that Iraq was not making WMD or providing support to al Qaeda, 58% of Bush supporters said the US should not have, and 61% assume that in this case the President would not have. Kull continues, "To support the president and to accept that he took the US to war based on mistaken assumptions likely creates substantial cognitive dissonance, and leads Bush supporters to suppress awareness of unsettling information about prewar Iraq."
This tendency of Bush supporters to ignore dissonant information extends to other realms as well. Despite an abundance of evidence--including polls conducted by Gallup International in 38 countries, and more recently by a consortium of leading newspapers in 10 major countries--only 31% of Bush supporters recognize that the majority of people in the world oppose the US having gone to war with Iraq. Forty-two percent assume that views are evenly divided, and 26% assume that the majority approves. Among Kerry supporters, 74% assume that the majority of the world is opposed.
Similarly, 57% of Bush supporters assume that the majority of people in the world would favor Bush's reelection; 33% assumed that views are evenly divided and only 9% assumed that Kerry would be preferred. A recent poll by GlobeScan and PIPA of 35 of the major countries around the world found that in 30, a majority or plurality favored Kerry, while in just 3 Bush was favored. On average, Kerry was preferred more than two to one.
Bush supporters also have numerous misperceptions about Bush's international policy positions. Majorities incorrectly assume that Bush supports multilateral approaches to various international issues--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (69%), the treaty banning land mines (72%)--and for addressing the problem of global warming: 51% incorrectly assume he favors US participation in the Kyoto treaty. After he denounced the International Criminal Court in the debates, the perception that he favored it dropped from 66%, but still 53% continue to believe that he favors it. An overwhelming 74% incorrectly assumes that he favors including labor and environmental standards in trade agreements. In all these cases, majorities of Bush supporters favor the positions they impute to Bush. Kerry supporters are much more accurate in their perceptions of his positions on these issues.
"The roots of the Bush supporters' resistance to information," according to Steven Kull, "very likely lie in the traumatic experience of 9/11 and equally in the near pitch-perfect leadership that President Bush showed in its immediate wake. This appears to have created a powerful bond between Bush and his supporters--and an idealized image of the President that makes it difficult for his supporters to imagine that he could have made incorrect judgments before the war, that world public opinion could be critical of his policies or that the President could hold foreign policy positions that are at odds with his supporters." "
KR reports it first, as usual, and asked the Bush campaign about it: "A Bush campaign official, Reed Dickens, said the perceptions on weapons were understandable ``given that it's only in the last few weeks we've had this definitive finding'' of the Duelfer report." 12:10:44 AM