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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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1/24/2003

Bush Caves

The little powers are, according to the Post, driving the Bushies into an extension. All of a sudden a few more weeks of inspections - to convince the French - makes sense.

My hope here is that the Americans are simply baiting a trap. Let Saddam think he is winning, let him think he is fooling anyone and that the American's give a rat's ass about the French and then drop the 82nd Airborne into Baghdad.

No evidence at all; but I am pretty certain the French are not holding Bush up. He'll go when he's ready and that could be as soon as next Thursday. You read it here first.

Better news

The reason why the West has triumphed for the last four hundred years is that we can concieve of and execute something as insanely great as a nuke powered space vehicle.


Embarrased

"Canada said yesterday the United States would have no justification for attacking Iraq now because UN inspectors have not had enough time to probe for weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign Minister Bill Graham said: "I agree with the French and German analysis that at this particular time, we couldn't justify a war."

I rather thought my own lame country would say something like this.

The point about the UN resolution was not to take years letting Saddam play a shell game with WMDs: it was to say prove to us you do not have any. The onus - as Graham, a law professor knows - was shifted squarely onto the Iraqis.

They have failed to discharge that onus. Which puts them in material breach. Which leads to "serious consequences". Graham and the craven Liberal Cabinet seem to assume it is a good thing for the UN to be ignored and didled on the ground.

The effect of Saddam's transparent unwillingness to co-operate with the UN is simply the basis upon which the US and England will march into Iraq. As such it is not terribly important in any sort of long run.

But the inability of the Security Council and the other members of the UN to back up its own resolutions with force will haunt the world for years to come. Bush initially submitted to the UN at the urging of his now isolated Secretary of State. He won a ringing resolution which has turned to ashes in two months. Why would he, or any other American President even bother going back to the UN in future?

Graham had the opportunity to walk tall and tough here. He could have ensured the respect of the world and the friendship of America simply by saying that Canada is perfectly willing to support the resolutions of the UN with whatever force may be necessary. He could also have stated that the failure of the Iraqis to fully co-operate - a failure which even Blix acknowledges - is a material breach and that war was a matter of weeks away.

If he had any balls, and Lord knows he doesn't, he would then have flown to Baghdad and told Saddam or one of his gunsels to shape up or face the wraith of mile shooting Canadian snipers.

We would have been proud of that, now we are just another embarassed little power. Pity.

To Some in Europe, the Major Problem Is Bush the Cowboy

To others it is the idea that the UN has gone from masterful resolution two months ago to irrelevance now.

"In France the rhetoric is less heated, but the suspicions of Mr. Bush's motives are no less real. French officials may have been playing to the home audience when they hinted that the country may use its veto power in the Security Council to prevent a second resolution, authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, to pass anytime soon.

But there is a clear fear here that Mr. Bush will respond to the French threat by avoiding such a vote altogether. One senior diplomat predicted the next few weeks "will be the defining moment on whether the United States decides to stay within the international system."

What international system would that be? The one which includes Saddam and excludes America? I don't think so.

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq 'preparing for chemical war'

No doubt purely defensive...

Paul Wolfwitz explains a certain reluctance on the part of Iraqi scientists:

"In a key speech in New York, US Deputy Defence Secretary Paul Wolfowitz recited a long list of instances in which, he said, Iraq was still lying about and concealing its weapons programmes.

"Today we know from multiple sources that Saddam has ordered any scientist who cooperates during interviews will be killed, as well as their families," Mr Wolfowitz said.

Earlier in Baghdad, Iraqi officials had said they were encouraging scientists to speak to the UN, but six had so far resisted efforts to question them alone.

"We did our best to push the scientists but they refused such interviews without the presence of representatives of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate," Iraq's chief liaison officer Hossam Mohammed Amin told a news conference. "


On to Bagdhad

Krauthammer expertly demonstrates the logic which will drive the American war in Iraq.

The French and the Germans have rendered the United Nations into the League of Nations - a toothless talking shop where action will be vetoed by little powers.

Blair has maintained the Great in Britan, but there are precious few real allies willing to follow on into Iraq. I pray Canada does but I am not at all sure we have the stomach for it.

In the end, the UN was and is unable to say "We will back our words with action."

Let's hope it is a short war.

1/23/2003

Old Europe

"French Finance Minister Francis Mer said he was "profoundly vexed" by the remarks.

"I wanted to remind everyone that this 'old Europe' has resilience, and is capable of bouncing back," Mr. Mer told LCI television. "And it will show it, in time."

Mr. Rumsfeld has made a shocking error....he has told the plain, unvarnished truth about the relevance of France and Germany in world affairs.

He has vexed the French. He has enraged the Germans. He has had the temerity to actually point out that neither country has much of military contribution to make and that, in any case, the Americans can do just fine without them.

Rumsfeld and the rest of the Bushies do not make off the cuff mistakes. They plan the message and stay on message. If Bush wants to vex the French he knows just how to do it.

My sense is that this is all more smoke to mask the fact that the Americans are on the ground in Iraq and have been for some time. War is a matter of a couple of weeks away - if that.

The French and the Germans will hear about it long after the war is over and Saddam has been sent packing.

1/22/2003

A war in Iraq could fray unity against Al Qaeda | csmonitor.com

There is a certain logic to the idea that a) if the US igonores the French and the Germans and the other little powers they will no longer play nice on Al Qaeda, b) that it is cheaper to keep the inspectors nosing around Iraq more or less, we hope, preventing any new progress on WMDs.

The logic is more compelling if you do not believe that Saddam is a direct threat.

If, on the other hand, you see Saddam as potentially arming Al Qaeda with a few spare biologicals then the logic runs the other way.

While we do not have access to the intelligence which is driving Bush and Blair to war it is pretty clear they see Saddam as a clear and present danger rather than a fuzzy and distant one.

It is also pretty clear that the Americans and the British have not shared their intelligence with the Germans and the French - or the Russians and Chinese for that matter. Little surprise there; neither the French nor the Germans seem to want to believe such intelligence exists. And they seem unwilling to accept Blair or Bush's word for it.

At a guess, prior to the Security Council meeting to consider the first Blix report, Blair and Bush will let their Security Council compadres have a little look at the intelligence. By then it will not matter how fast the Germans or the French leak it - the Allies will be committed to taking Bagdhad and the rest of Iraq.

It is only a pity that war has had to wait this long. (Though there is a wee hope the Americans may take a shot at the full surprise attack with prepostioned troops going after every one of Saddam's hideouts withour waiting for any reports at all. Just a guess; but it seems as reasonable as the long march up the Eurphrates.)

-- Discovery Health Channel -- drug abuse

This is an interesting piece of a puzzle: it strongly suggests that there is not a genetic component to drug use behaviour.

It is not a huge surprise either. The younger a person starts using drugs the more likely they are to use other drugs seems like common sense. What it does not do, however, is prove out a casual link.

The reporting on the story that I have read keeps looking at the fact early use - before 17 - leads to a 1.8 to 5.2 times rate of use of pot, alcohol and harder drugs later in life. Which is important and should be covered; but is it casual. Is there an arrow from smoking pot at 14 to coke at 25?

There does not seem to be anything in the study which suggests this.

What seems to be true is that if one twin is more willing to experiment or take risks than the other then the risk taker will, well, have more risk of dependence later.

My gut sense with all of this is that the key question is the level of risk aversion. Kids who don't smoke dope or drink at 14 are, I think, more risk adverse than those who do.

It would be interesting to look at the same sample and see what else they have done by the time they are 30.

Minor Power Status

Not surprisingly the Germans have aligned themselves with the "wait and see, no war, now or ever" faction. Which leaves them firmly in the growing camp of "little powers".

The point about little powers is that they can do nothing to actually alter what goes on in the world. While it may be satisfying at a domestic political level to take shots at the Americans, the impotence of the little powers is palpable.

The consequences of the German-French axis are, well, minimal. The Americans have all the cover they believe they need in the form of the last UN resolution regarding Iraq. Even if the little men of Europe whine, what, exactly can they do?

It is a safe bet that the Americans will not ask for a second UN resolution if they do not think they have the votes to pass it. Why bother? And it is an even safer bet that if the Americans are not satisfied with Iraq's co-operation, they will be in Bagdhad by the end of March.

Schroeder's capitulation will not alter American or British policy one iota. But what it will do is ensure that Germany is rendered utterly irrelevant in world politics for the next few years. Pledging Europe to Peace makes it seem as if Europe matters. It doesn't, or at least it doesn't matter much.


1/21/2003

Off shore here we come

The DMCA got a boost in Court when a judge allowed the RIAA to demand a sevice provider give the name of a customer alledged to have been trading songs. It will be appealled no doubt.

But the poor RIAA still does not get it: the same technology which allows Chinese internet users to surf outside the watch of the political police, can and will be used to hide the identities of file swappers.

Technically I suspect it will involve a remote log in to a server located outside the reach of the DMCA - say in Canada - and then a link out to the file swapping entity. All that the scans the RIAA would find are a whole lot of Americans who are signing on to Canadian servers.

A clever Canadian entreprenuer should be able to make a buck offering this service with ads surounding the actual swapping.

Left it too long W

Not that the French really matter, nor do the Germans or the Russians or the Chinese; but the tragedy of W's long patience is that the wossie faction in international politics are, surprise, getting cold feet.

The idea that the French would get on their hind legs and exercise their UN veto on a resolution authorizing the use of force in the event that the Blix team reports non-compliance is just silly. Who pray would give a rat's ass if a third rate euro-power - whose veto was a matter of courtesy to a defeated ally - is not on board.

This would be particularily true if the war goes as predicted and is over in a week or two. Wouldn't the gallant French look like fools. But, one must remember these are the same folks whose lack of foresight gave us WWI and whose utter cowardice gave us WWII. They do, however, make excellent cheese.


1/19/2003

He who hesitates...

The buildup to the Iraq war has taken too long. If, and Debka Files is at best 50/50 Jordan is bailing, the military effects can probably be contained. What cannot be contained is the perception of the Americans being abandoned by what few Muslim allies they have.

Bush's hard line was softened by the UN and now his ability to simply put paid to Saddam is quietly being reduced. All the sabre rattling in the world will not work if allies peel off.

Jordan was one of the very few countries in the region in the last war to publically side with Iraq. To have them go neutral at this point is a huge blow.

Why? This is not at all clear and I rather doubt it will come clear for a while. In a sense it probably does not matter; but in another sense the shifting alliances in the Middle East are a given. It was dangerously naive of the Americans to count on the Turks or the Jordanians without being willing to push the war forward fast. A bargain which looks grand on Monday looks foolhardy by Friday and suicidal the following week.